Two NextEnergy demonstration programs were selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as finalists in the SmartAmerica Challenge. Two teams comprised of NextEnergy and four Detroit-area companies will represent Michigan at the SmartAmerica Expo in Washington D.C. on June 11.

The SmartAmerica Challenge was created to advance developments in the intercommunication of systems in fundamentally new ways within sectors such as transportation, energy, manufacturing and healthcare, in order to show how Cyber-Physical Systems (“the Internet of Things”) can create jobs, new business opportunities and socio-economic benefits to America.

Since 2002, NextEnergy has partnered with Michigan-based organizations to accelerate innovation in advanced energy technology development and enable public-private partnerships. The SmartAmerica Challenge provided the opportunity to highlight two of its key demonstrations in the city of Detroit. In the first demonstration NextEnergy worked with jacAPPS to develop a mobile app that is the first third-party application to use the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) open architecture. The second demonstration provided a floor-to-floor comparison between a modular, scalable low voltage power and lighting system developed by Nextek Power Systems and TOGGLED at a Bedrock commercial property in Detroit.

“We are honored to have two of our collaborative demonstrations chosen by SmartAmerica, as it puts a national spotlight on the technology advancements happening right here in southeast Michigan,” explains Jean Redfield, President and CEO, NextEnergy. “And it’s not just about technology for technology’s sake. Both demonstrations embody the idea that technology can truly change the way we live and work. Partnerships that leverage the strengths of both large, established firms and small technology start-ups have great potential for scalability which could lead to a significant economic impact on the region.”

Smart Power. Smart Light. Made in Detroit. 

Coordinated by NextEnergy, two Detroit-based technology start-ups, Nextek Power Systems and TOGGLED, have developed a modular, scalable direct current powered lighting system that allows facility managers to rewire and move lights as building needs change – more safely and cost effectively than conventional systems. The system also features a dashboard (see attached image) that integrates with existing building management systems, allowing building owners to remotely and more efficiently access and manage lighting and motion controls. The integrated power and lighting system is installed at the Chrysler House, a Bedrock Real Estate Services property in Detroit. Bedrock owns and manages seven million square feet of commercial real estate in Detroit and is a major driver in the city’s revitalization.

Nextek Power Systems and TOGGLED employ more than 40 people to design, engineer and manufacture the low voltage power systems and LED lights in Metro Detroit. As this technology scales, there is potential to create an economic impact of more than $12 million in manufacturing activity and $5 million in wages in Metro Detroit over the next three to five years.

“Nextek has long believed that DC microgrids in buildings are necessary for the ‘Internet of Things’ to flourish,” said Paul Savage, CEO, Nextek Power Systems. “We are excited to demonstrate the close link between cyber control and our physical DC power distribution system including LEDs in Washington this week. Visitors will be able to take control of the system with their smart phones, and give the state of the art a spin – just as Bedrock Real Estate Service is doing in Detroit, building by building.”

Cars + Communication = Smart Opportunities 

Connected vehicles have the potential to transform the way we travel. NextEnergy and Southfield-based jacAPPS partnered to develop an app that will demonstrate how 3rd parties can utilize the US DOT open architecture to manage communications between vehicles and infrastructure. This first-of-its-kind app will demonstrate how an electric vehicle (EV) requests and receives information related to the EV charging stations’ location, type, and availability. The app will then provide mapping information to the most appropriate destination.

The strategic value of the NextEnergy app is it provides a real world demonstration to educate third parties on how to integrate into the US DOT architecture data exchange. Ultimately this ‘proof of concept’ may create additional software development and manufacturing jobs, support national programs designed to promote alternative fuel vehicles and open source software development, and expand the digital economy.

More than 60 proposals were submitted to the SmartAmerica Challenge and only 24 were selected as finalists. Other notable finalists include IBM, AT&T and Qualcomm. All remaining teams will come together this week at the Washington D.C. Convention Center to provide demonstrations and hear speakers from the White House – including a keynote by Todd Park, the US Chief Technology Officer and assistant to the president – various government agencies, and companies and universities from across the US.

About NextEnergy

Founded in 2002 as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, NextEnergy is one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries. NextEnergy drives technology demonstration and commercialization; delivers industry and venture development services; and provides an authoritative voice in the public sector. Since its inception, NextEnergy has helped attract more than $1.3 billion of new investment in the state of Michigan, including programs in excess of $150 million in which NextEnergy has directly participated. For more information, visit

About the SmartAmerica Challenge 

Launched in December 2013 by two Presidential Innovation Fellows, the SmartAmerica Challenge brought about new collaborations, ideas and technologies, and led to new investments and jobs. More than 100 organizations from academia, industry and government formed 24 teams to demonstrate how cyber-physical systems—which join networks of sensors, controls and processors to create new capabilities—could improve transportation, emergency services, health care, security, resource conservation and delivery, manufacturing and more. For more information, visit For more information on the expo, and to register visit