Business Models for Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets

Client Organization: 
U-M William Davidson Institute (WDI)
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives: 

This project aims to build a body of knowledge around business models for energy entrepreneurship and innovation in emerging markets. This student group will develop a methodology for analyzing business models, conduct a survey to collect both quantitative and qualitative data for energy-related business models in emerging markets, and write profiles of successful business models and how they may apply in other countries. WDI intends to build upon this research by using the methodology developed during this project in other countries.

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:  

A healthy market for small, locally-owned businesses and access to energy are two major drivers of poverty reduction. Distributed energy resources have the potential to meet the growing demand for energy in emerging markets without the large-scale climate impacts of conventional energy generation. When implemented by local entrepreneurs, there is also potential to stimulate economic growth through the provision of energy. This project aims to identify successful models at this intersection.

Specific Activities & Duration: 

The scale of the project is appropriate for the 16 month timeframe. Students will: conduct a literature review to understand the global environment for energy entrepreneurship, conduct desk research to understand the context and regulatory environment in one or more of Cuba/Gabon/India, develop a methodology for analyzing business models, create a survey and administer it in the field with the support of in-country partners, conduct analysis on survey data, write profiles on successful business models, and disseminate findings to appropriate stakeholders.

Integrative Approach:

This project requires a variety of skillsets so there would be opportunities for students to share their expertise and even lead different components of the project. Once the team is selected, the sponsor, advisor, and team will work together to determine the best way to utilize the diverse skills the team members have to offer.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Joe Arvai
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Ellen Abrams 
  • Kevin Bosma 
  • Matthew Carney 
  • Connor Cox 
  • Allison Miller 
  • Amanda Willis 
Project Status: 
In Progress