Mobile startup Drive Power creates digital driving coach using U of M IP


Drive PowerIntellectual property invented inside the University of Minnesota’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute has been licensed by a newborn startup called Drive Power, led by CEO Will England.

The deal, which was finalized in late December, combines multiple technologies — mobile, data and software — to focus on encouraging safe driving habits, particularly among teenage drivers. It’s based on the Teen Driver Support System and lead technical developer Alec Gorjestani joins Drive Power as VP of Technology.

DriveScribe is the go to market product, which is anticipated to publicly launch in April.  Using a smartphone accelerometer, GPS and gyroscope combined with GIS map data and SaaS dashboard, DriveScribe aims to be a digital driving coach.

From a safety point of view, the app pauses incoming messages, communicates changes in speed limits,  driving conditions, and tracks other nuances like location and sudden movements.  It collects, compiles and synthesizes multiple data points into a real time web-based analytics dashboard for parental observation.

The interesting twist of Drive Power is found in the way by which this individual behavior can be interpreted and leveraged.

Drive Power Safe Driver Score

“The ‘Safe Driver Score’ is a single metric that measures a drivers risk profile to an insurer,” England explains, pointing to a larger trend in usage based insurance. “The score is useful for drivers, parents, insurance companies and sponsors…and has the potential to become the industry standard metric for communicating safe driving practices, the “FICO” of safe driving.”

Drive Power’s second product in the works, DynoDriver, involves integrated game mechanics designed to promote safe driving.

England, who relocated to Minnesota this past summer for love and also found a startup, is a Boston native and a Princeton and Oxford educated mathematician with a background in quantitative trading models. “Beyond the social impact of Drive Power, the opportunity is very exciting for me from a data analysis and predictive modeling point of view.”

Key for Drive Power’s spring launch and market awareness is a strategic marketing partnership formed with St.Paul-based engagement specialist Augeo, a move which has already opened doors in the insurance market, amongst other distribution channels, he affirms.

Drive Power marks the third recent IT ‘tech transfer’ success by the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology and Commercialization as of late, considering CasTT (Oct) and Smart Signal (Nov).  The group launched a new program called ‘Minnesota Innovation Partnerships’ last month to streamline licensing efforts and will hosting a software & IT showcase on January 19th.

“I have found that working with the University was a great experience and would encourage other entrepreneurs to explore the possibilities that exist there,” England concluded.