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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

After Sale, Packetized Energy Plans to Stay — and Grow — in Vermont

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2022 at 2:17 PM

Paul Hines - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck ©️ Seven Days
  • Paul Hines
Packetized Energy, a Burlington company that makes power-saving technology, has been acquired by New York City company EnergyHub and plans to grow in the coming year.

Founded in 2016 by University of Vermont electrical engineering professors Paul Hines, Jeff Frolik and Mads Almassalkhi, Packetized Energy has developed algorithms to help utilities communicate with water heaters, electric vehicles, and battery systems to determine when and how they are operating. The algorithms also allow utilities to control how much power a home or business uses — for example, by dropping the thermostat or water heater a few degrees during times of peak demand.

Some utilities already do this, using specialized software that monitors internet-connected thermostats and other devices to assess energy use remotely.

“We built the software platform around the idea that you’ll have lots of these internet devices connected to the grid, and we need a common language for communicating with all of them,” Hines said.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Tech Biz Resonant Link Raises $9 Million, Plans to Double Staff

Posted By on Wed, Feb 9, 2022 at 2:31 PM

Aaron Stein of Resonant Link shows a wireless charging component - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Aaron Stein of Resonant Link shows a wireless charging component
Resonant Link, a Burlington-based company that makes wireless charging technology for medical devices and electric vehicles, says it will use a recent $9.3 million round of investment to more than double its workforce from 20 to 50 over the next year.

The company, which moved to Burlington in 2019, is also looking locally for a place to expand its headquarters, said Grayson Zulauf, Resonant Link’s cofounder and CEO. The company will hire engineers and business development staff to work remotely or in the Burlington area.

“We’re looking to help make Burlington one of the centers of power and energy for the next generation of devices and vehicles,” he said.

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

DealerPolicy to Expand in Williston With $110 Million Infusion

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2021 at 5:57 PM

Travis Fitzgerald, DealerPolicy CEO - COURTESY OF DEALERPOLICY
  • Courtesy of DealerPolicy
  • Travis Fitzgerald, DealerPolicy CEO
DealerPolicy, a Williston software company that started just five years ago, has obtained $110 million in investment funding and plans to hire about 100 people as it expands.

In Vermont, deals of around $5 million still garner notice. That $110 million is more than all of the combined venture investing in 31 companies in the state last year, said Cairn Cross, whose Shelburne company, FreshTracks Capital, was a minor player in the DealerPolicy deal.

The move could draw interest and build confidence in companies based in Chittenden County and in Vermont, said Jeff Couture of the Vermont Technology Alliance.

“Investment draws other investment, or at least draws the attention” of people who keep track of business deals nationally, said Couture. He noted that some employees drawn to Vermont by the fast-growing Dealer.com software company years ago started their own businesses in town. Dealer.com was eventually sold, the second time to Cox Automotive in 2015 in a $4 billion deal.

“I hope it’s the beginning of more to come” for other Vermont companies, Couture said.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Scott Names Former Political Rival Hallquist to Lead Broadband Expansion

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2021 at 4:27 PM

Christine Hallquist - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Christine Hallquist
Gov. Phil Scott has appointed a former political rival, Christine Hallquist, to lead Vermont’s latest push to expand broadband access.

Hallquist will be the first executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, a new entity created by lawmakers to coordinate and accelerate the rollout of high-speed internet services to the 23 percent of Vermont households that lack it.

A veteran of the electric utility industry, Hallquist ran against Scott in 2018. She made history as the first transgender major party gubernatorial candidate in the country. She won just 40 percent of the vote to Scott’s 55 percent.

Hallquist made broadband a major platform in her campaign. She argued that her experience as CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative positioned her well to help expand the service. She currently works for two communications union districts rolling out broadband in Lamoille County and the Northeast Kingdom.

In a press release, Scott framed broadband as an economic equity issue and praised Hallquist for her years of work advancing the issue.

“I cannot think of a better person to lead this important effort than Christine,” Scott said. “Her experience as a cooperative executive and most recent experience with two CUDs as well as her long-standing commitment to expanding broadband in Vermont will be valuable to this work.”

Communications union districts are a type of municipal entity designed to bridge the digital divide in the state. There are now nine such districts, which can build broadband infrastructure themselves or work with private internet providers to expand service. They cover more than 200 towns and are managed mostly by volunteer boards.

The five-member Vermont Community Broadband Board was formed to help these fledgling districts design, fund and manage the rollout of broadband networks. Future state grants will flow almost exclusively through such districts. Board members have yet to be appointed.

Hallquist compares the challenge of expanding broadband to the rural electrification effort of the 1930s and 1940s that gave birth to the electric co-op that she headed from 2005 to 2018.

In an interview Monday, Hallquist said she was honored to be appointed and learned she'd been selected during a “gracious” call from Scott last week. She said she’s been impressed with Scott’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and told him so.

"I think he did a better job than I could have done,” Hallquist said.

Hallquist will work in the Department of Public Service. Her first order of business will be to get the five board members appointed and ready for the board’s first meeting on August 9, she said.

The state has set aside $150 million for broadband expansion, and Hallquist will be largely responsible for helping the board direct those dollars to fiber-optic projects serving all residents, she said.

“I’m very excited and looking to get to work helping CUDs maximize the value of those grant funds,” Hallquist said.

She will make $120,000 annually and begin work July 26.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Vermont-Based Remote-Instruction Startup Nets $6 Million From Investors

Posted By on Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 9:01 AM

Narine Hall - COURTESY OF CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
  • Courtesy of Champlain College
  • Narine Hall
A video conference company cofounded by Champlain College professor Narine Hall has received a round of investment worth $6 million.

The company, InSpace, sells a platform that is designed to ease personal interaction between students and teachers in virtual classrooms. InSpace announced Tuesday that it received $6 million in two rounds of funding, including a $2.6 investment from Boston Seed Capital in January, and $1.5 million each from Gutbrain Ventures of Boston and PBJ Capital of Lincoln, Mass., at the end of May.

Hall is a data science assistant professor and academic program director at Champlain College. She created the platform with software and video engineer Haykanush Lputyan, who lives in Armenia. The two, friends from college in that country, launched it last year as the pandemic sent students and professors out of the classroom to work remotely.

The company said its software is now used by more than 100 universities and schools worldwide. Hall, who lives in Colchester, said InSpace was making money almost as soon as it was founded 11 months ago and now has about 10 employees in Armenia and five in Vermont. She's looking for more employees, including those who can work remotely.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

GlobalFoundries Moves Headquarters to New York's Capital Region

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2021 at 3:42 PM

A GlobalFoundries employee working on the production floor in Essex Junction - COURTESY OF GLOBALFOUNDRIES
  • COURTESY OF GLOBALFOUNDRIES
  • A GlobalFoundries employee working on the production floor in Essex Junction
GlobalFoundries, the owner of the former IBM semiconductor plant in Essex Junction and the state’s largest private employer, announced Monday it had  moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to New York State, where it has two factories.

The shift was hailed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a press conference at the company’s newest fabrication plant in Malta, N.Y, outside Saratoga Springs.

“This is a huge shot in the arm for our Capital Region economy, and it’s a giant step in our goal to enhance Albany’s position as one of the chip fab capitals, not just of America, but of the world,” Schumer said.

The move puts the company's top decision makers just a three-hour drive from the Vermont facility where 2,189 people churn out massive quantities of semiconductor chips for use mostly in the telecommunications industry.

GlobalFoundries didn’t consider a move to the Green Mountain State, however, spokeswoman Gina DeRossi said.

CEO Tom Caulfield is a native New Yorker and was already based in Malta. The plant there, known as Fab 8, is the company’s newest and most advanced, “which makes it the logical choice for our global corporate HQ,” DeRossi told Seven Days. The company’s other New York fab is in East Fishkill. It also has a factory in Germany and six in Singapore.

GlobalFoundries will continue to have a strong presence in California. The shift of senior leadership and administrative functions from the West Coast to Malta have already taken place, DeRossi said.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

BTV-Based Beta Technologies Inks Deal With UPS for Electric Aircraft

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2021 at 2:10 PM

An Alia prototype - BETA TECHNOLOGIES
  • Beta Technologies
  • An Alia prototype
Updated at 7:20 p.m.

South Burlington-based startup Beta Technologies has a deal with United Parcel Service to sell up to 150 of its experimental electric aircraft to the logistics company.

The agreement announced on Wednesday is a milestone for the Vermont company and for the emerging industry of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs, which promises to reduce fuel emissions and enable new methods of transport.

“A purchase order from UPS really gives the team here, who's really focused on the mission of the business, an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the sustainability of aviation in the future,” founder and CEO Kyle Clark said in an interview.

UPS intends to use the aircraft for express delivery services in small- and mid-size markets, the company said in a press release, as part of an effort to transition away from fossil fuels.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Montpeculiar: Luckily, This Was Not an Actual Legislative Session

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 6:33 PM

Member of the Vermont House of Representatives practicing remote voting Tuesday - SCREENSHOT ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Screenshot ©️ Seven Days
  • Member of the Vermont House of Representatives practicing remote voting Tuesday
The new, mostly remote session of the Vermont legislature goes live Wednesday with the typical annual ceremonial and procedural oaths, speeches and votes by the House and the Senate. But lawmakers who logged on for a practice session Tuesday got a refresher course in just how frustrating remote legislating can make these otherwise routine tasks. 

House members on videoconference forgot to mute themselves, talked over one another, struggled to use voting software and endured a dull humming sound from someone’s faulty microphone.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here!” Rep. Robert Helm (R-Fair Haven) declared in exasperation at one point. “Am I recorded as voting yes?”  
Rep. Robert Helm - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Rep. Robert Helm


The 1 p.m. practice session was staged precisely to help lawmakers and Statehouse staff work out any glitches in remote voting procedures and clear out any cobwebs that some acknowledged had gathered since the previous session ended in September.

Helm and his colleagues weren’t voting on real legislation. Rather, he was expressing befuddlement about whether his vote on a pretend bill — dubbed H.R. XYZ — was being properly registered.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

UVM Medical Center Confirms Cyberattack Involved Ransomware

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 6:02 PM

SEAN METCALF
  • Sean Metcalf
The fall cyberattack that crippled University of Vermont Medical Center servers and disrupted vital patient care for weeks involved a form of ransomware, the hospital disclosed for the first time Tuesday.

Officials had previously refused to say whether ransomware was used, citing guidance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But the FBI recently gave the hospital permission to describe some aspects of the attack, said Dr. Doug Gentile, the medical center's chief medical information officer.

"What I can tell you is this was in the class of ransomware attacks," Gentile told reporters on a Zoom call. "We did not get a phone call. We did not get a letter. But we did have a file deposited [on our system] that gave instructions on how to contact the attackers."

That file provided a web address and instructed the hospital to contact the perpetrators if it wished to free its system, according to Gentile, who said he could not be sure of the motivation behind the attacks because the hospital ultimately never made contact — nor did it receive any ransom request.

"But we assume they were asking for money," Gentile said.

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Vermont Tech Company Develops AI Software That Can Detect COVID Status

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 7:42 PM

The AI software could help physicians determine whether PCR tests such as these would be necessary. - FILE: OLIVER PARINI ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Oliver Parini ©️ Seven Days
  • The AI software could help physicians determine whether PCR tests such as these would be necessary.
A Vermont tech company says it has created artificial intelligence software that hospitals can use to rule out whether someone has COVID-19 — simply by analyzing routine blood work.

Artur Adib, founder and CEO of Biocogniv, told Seven Days on Monday that his company's new AI software relies on blood tests often already performed during emergency room visits and would allow hospitals to gauge a patient's COVID status without using up critical testing supplies.

"What this enables hospitals to do is to protect their stash," he said, estimating that they could save up to 70 percent of their PCR kits.

Adib, who founded Biocogniv last year, said his company trained the AI software with a large dataset that included thousands of bloodwork results from both positive and negative COVID-19 patients.

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