The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council named University of Virginia School of Engineering research professor David Slutzky Entrepreneur of the Year at its 21st Annual CBIC Awards Gala, held Thursday, May 23, 2019, at The Paramount Theater.

Slutzky, who has a faculty appointment in the Department of Engineering and Society, won for his startup, Fermata Energy.

Slutzky is president and CEO of Fermata Energy, which he founded in 2010 to develop and commercialize vehicle-to-grid technology to make electric vehicles more cost effective and the electric power grid more stable. The aim is to use electric vehicles to provide large-scale energy storage to make the transition to renewable energy happen more quickly.

Fermata Energy has developed proprietary bi-directional charging technologies that allow an electric vehicle to send power stored in its batteries to buildings or homes during peak usage times to reduce electricity costs, and back to the grid.

“We are planning to begin scaling commercial deployments of our proprietary vehicle-to-grid technologies later this year,” Slutzky said.

It’s already been a big year for Fermata. In November 2018, it announced an agreement with Nissan North America to launch the Nissan Energy Share pilot program. According to the company’s news release, Fermata Energy chargers and proprietary software system are being used in Nissan LEAFs to cut power costs at Nissan’s headquarters in Tennessee and its design center in California.

Ultimately, the pilot is intended to show that electric vehicles can earn money when they are parked.

“We are excited to be working with Nissan, a global leader in vehicle electrification, to demonstrate the potential for using the energy stored in EV batteries to benefit vehicle owners in new ways beyond driving the vehicle,” Slutzky said in the press release.

In January, the company announced a $2.5 million strategic investment from TEPCO Ventures, the investment arm of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. The investment will support commercialization of Fermata Energy’s vehicle-to-grid technology in the U.S. and Japan.

The Charlottesville Business Innovation Council promotes entrepreneurship and innovation of technology-focused organizations in the greater Charlottesville area. Each year, the council hosts an awards gala to recognize the community’s leading businesses and educators, in addition to awarding scholarships and grants in support of science and technology education and student entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled for David to receive this recognition for the groundbreaking work at Fermata Energy,” said W. Bernard Carlson, chair of Engineering and Society. “David exemplifies how UVA Engineering fulfills its mission of directing technology toward society’s most pressing challenges, and I look forward to having David draw on his experiences at Fermata to help educate our up-and-coming student entrepreneurs.”