The 2017 winner of the Joseph and Antoinette Sobara Entrepreneurial Award is Carter Li, of SWTCH  — congratulation Carter for this well-deserved win! This award was funded by Joseph and Antoinette Sorbara with the intension of providing financial support to one of our Zone Learning members that demonstrates passion to build their business idea, and a willingness to collaborate with other zone members. As the Co-Founder and CEO of SWTCH, a startup working out of the Clean Energy ZoneCarter won $5,000 towards SWTCH’s development.

Carter’s focus at SWTCH lies in developing management solutions for charging electric vehicles in commercial, residential and workplace settings. He and his team have created a software product that integrates with all brands and supply equipment, allowing users to schedule use and payments. SWTCH believes that by streamlining the transactions between charge equipment providers and electric vehicle drivers they can instill confidence in the user that accessibility to equipment–and larger driving distances–is possible with an electric vehicle.

This team is essentially looking to ease the adoption of EV driving with their management software. Rather than planning your driving trips ahead of time, by mapping out all charging stations, SWITCH plans to charge a 10 percent commission to independent owners for renting out their charging stations. Commissions are dependent on daily fluctuation patterns of energy pricing.

To quote The Globe and Mail on this start-up:

SWTCH has developed a web-based platform that will allow homeowners with electric-vehicle chargers to rent plug-in time to other EV [electric vehicle] drivers. Similar to the lodging rental app Airbnb, SWTCH allows users to manage profiles, bookings and transactions through its interface.

It is easy to see how this crowdsourcing method aimed at improving accessibility to charging stations will make it much easier for users to incorporate EV driving into their daily lives. By collaborating with owners of EV charging stations, aggregating this information into SWTCH’s software platform, and relaying it back to users, there is a lot more flexibility in time, range and energy given to EV drivers.

Outside of this venture’s development, Carter and his start-up have been eager to network with members within the Clean Energy Zone, sharing and exchanging knowledge and support. They have shared their time here at Ryerson in varying capacities — representing CEZ at conferences, exhibitions, workshops and accelerator programs, including the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s Climate Solutions Accelerator. By increasing accessibility for EV drivers, SWTCH’s objective is to become a key enabler in achieving Green House Gas emission reduction targets for the province of Ontario’s Climate Action Plan.

Thank you Joseph and Antoinette Sorbara for creating this opportunity for our passionate entrepreneurs here in the Zone Learning network. And thank you to all of our valued members that applied for this award — your passion bolsters the dynamic learning environment on which Zone Learning is built.