Nest Labs Fills Spot in Austin’s Emerging Cleantech Cluster

Nest Labs has opened a technical support and customer service center in Austin.

The Palo Alto-based maker of smart thermostats plans to hire 125 agents in conjunction with Spot BPO, an Austin business management consultancy, which will provide technical support services.

Nest’s move to Austin, which was announced yesterday afternoon, is part of the development of a burgeoning cleantech cluster in the Texas capital. The city is home to more than 230 cleantech companies that employ more than 42,883 people, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. These companies work with groups such as the University of Texas Clean Energy Accelerator and the Austin Clean Energy Council.

Nest Labs, which was spun out of Apple and is best known for its Nest Learning Thermostat, has worked with the Pecan Street Project, an Austin-based research and development organization focused on clean energy products and services. As Nest was preparing to launch its thermostat, it had Pecan Street conduct research by monitoring the use of the device and measuring its effectiveness in Austin households, according to the chamber.

More broadly, the city of Austin is participating in an energy management program. The city-owned utility Austin Energy is working with Palo Alto, CA-based AutoGrid to analyze when and how much electricity is used by the city’s homes, businesses, and industrial users in order to make its power grid more efficient. The startup’s pilot program with the Austin utility started last month and is measuring energy usage at about 50 thermostats and 15 electric vehicle stations.

“The semiconductor industry grew here starting in the 1980s,” says Jose Beceiro, the chamber’s director of clean energy. “Now we’re leveraging this high-tech workforce and research base, and using them to recruit the nation’s top clean energy entrepreneurs.”

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