The story of innovative startup 75F, based in Burnsville, Minnesota, illustrates that innovation is thriving in Minnesota. 75F is one of the past recipients of the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Tekne Awards, which recognize leading innovators in 15 categories of science and technology.

A Tekne Award winner in the energy and clean technology category, 75F has developed solutions for climate control in non-residential settings. The company name comes from 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the optimal temperature for commercial building conference rooms, as established by the United Nations.

Applications for Tekne Awards open on June 11. The Tekne Award ceremony is Nov. 29.

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Deepinder Singh, CEO and founder of 75F, refers to his company as an energy innovator because it has been developing solutions to heating and cooling in a way that makes it simple and logical to control a building’s environment. The application of the system in Taco Bell restaurants owned by Border Foods provides a case study of how 75F eliminated heat islands around kitchens and seating areas with windows facing the sun. Read the case study here.

The 75F system connects to existing HVAC systems in commercial buildings, and provides users with building intelligence, while learning how and where to optimize energy consumption. It uses a combination of sensors, an equipment controller, and a central control unit to operate.

The ease of installation and operation is really what makes 75F a groundbreaking company. “You don’t need a specialized person to come in and install it,” Deepinder explains. Typically, any changes to HVAC and thermostat systems in commercial buildings requires specialized training or customized programming.

The 75F user-friendly interface has allowed the company to find markets outside metro areas, such as International Falls, because the system does not require hiring a specialized contractor. “The same person who cuts the grass can install our system,” Deepinder says.

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To prove the ease of installation, 75F partnered with STEM educators at Cypruss Classical Academy in Burnsville to have their students as a class project install the 75F system at their school. The students learned about STEM by studying climate control, measuring temperatures of the school building before and after they put 75F into service.

The benefits from a 75F system go beyond saving energy costs and gaining more building intelligence; the smart climate control also increases productivity. A Harvard study found that commercial buildings with optimized temperature settings make workers more satisfied and comfortable, causing an increase in overall productivity.

The technical needs for 75F span hardware and software, broad needs for a small company. Deephinder says the skills he has most relied on are electrical engineers with coding backgrounds.

SciTechsperienceLogoLarge2016As a small business in science and technology, 75F has been eligible for and has hired STEM college interns through the SciTechsperience program at Minnesota High Tech. SciTechsperience has helped 75F find students with the expertise to help grow the company.