Baker-Polito Administration Announces Funding For Clean Energy Startups

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Feb 14, 2019 –

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $505,000 in funding for eight early-stage clean energy companies in four Massachusetts communities. The funding, which comes from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Catalyst and AccelerateMass programs, will support clean energy companies in Amesbury, Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. 

“The cleantech start-up community is a vital element of Massachusetts’ nation-leading innovation and clean energy economies, and develops the pioneering technologies we need to combat climate change,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As these young companies pursue technology breakthroughs, our administration remains committed to providing resources to help stimulate economic growth, strengthen our workforce and meet our most pressing energy challenges.” 

“These programs provide an opportunity to support small businesses while also stimulating our nation-leading clean energy economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Interacting with these companies at an early-stage ensures they have the resources necessary to advance innovative technologies and secure additional private investment.”

The Catalyst Program, which is jointly administered by MassCEC and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC), provides grants to researchers and early-stage companies seeking to demonstrate proof of concept or develop a prototype for a technology. Since launching in 2010, Catalyst has awarded $4.47 million to 95 new companies and research teams. Past awardees have raised over $200 million in follow-on funding.

“The strength of the selected projects demonstrates that Massachusetts leads the nation in translating basic research to the market,” said MTTC Interim Executive Director Vinit Nijhawan. “These awards will catalyze the commercial viability of their inventions leading to additional private capital to grow into sustainable businesses.”

 MassCEC’s AccelerateMass program was developed to support early-stage companies that successfully graduate from accelerator programs, which help companies work through specific business development and technical objectives to accelerate the commercialization of their products and solutions. Accelerators reduce barriers to commercialization by connecting start-ups with mentors, investors, corporate partners, and customers through organized events and educational workshops, and may provide cash or in-kind prizes, and/or other awards to promising startup companies. Graduates of the following nine approved accelerators are eligible for the program: ASPIRE of VentureWell, Cleantech Open, delta v of MIT, Greentown Launch of Greentown Labs, MassChallenge, Techstars, TiE ScaleUp, Valley Venture Mentors, and Village Capital.

“Massachusetts is a national leader for clean energy, and this program helps ensure the Commonwealth stays on the cutting edge of clean energy technology development,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “To achieve ourambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, we must empower our start up community to pursue groundbreaking innovations and accelerate commercial-ready technologies to the market.”

“MassCEC helps early stage companies overcome the financial challenges inherent in developing innovative ideas,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “By working with local universities and accelerators, we can support a network of motivated entrepreneurs that are committed to developing next generation solutions to our ever evolving climate change challenges.”

The following awardees will each receive a $65,000 grant through the Catalyst program:

·         Cambridge Crops (Somerville): Developing edible silk food preservation technology to extend the shelf life of meat and poultry food products, which will reduce the water and energy resources that are lost with food spoilage and waste.

·         Camberline Technologies (Cambridge): Developing prototypes of its real-time, after-market electricity meter, which will read household electricity usage and support energy conservation practices.

·         Exact Lux (Somerville): Developing long-lasting, consistent LED lighting technology for indoor horticulture to increase yields and save energy on lighting.

·         INRoof Solar (Amesbury): Integrating a space-cooling feature to its solar thermal metal roofing system by removing waste heat to provide indoor air-conditioning.

·         Northeastern University, Dr. Qingying Jia (Boston): Developing a nickel-based catalyst, which will eliminate the expensive platinum that is currently used in catalysts for hydrogen-based fuel cells.

·         Onvector LLC (Somerville): Developing a high-voltage, highly-efficient, plasma vortex (“lighting in a bottle”) approach to treating industrial wastewater, such as pharmaceutical and chemical industry wastewater.

·         Transaera LLC (Somerville): Developing a prototype of its dehumidification system, which will reduce energy consumption in indoor farming.

Through its AccelerateMass program, MassCEC invested a convertible note of $50,000 in the following company, which is a former Catalyst awardee:

·         Titan AES Inc. (Cambridge): Developing a revolutionary battery management system using ultrasonic technology to provide faster and higher accuracy measurements of state of charge and stage of health which yields at least 20% increase in charge capacity and 125% increase in battery life.

MassCEC may invest an additional $100,000 in the company if it reaches specific business objectives that may include producing prototypes, securing customer orders, hiring key personnel, and raising additional capital.

"AccelerateMass plays a critical role in the growth of cleantech startups across the Commonwealth and we're thrilled TitanAES is one of the 2019 recipients," said Greentown Labs CEO Emily Reichert. "TitanAES worked exceptionally hard throughout the Greentown Launch BOLD Ideas Challenge sponsored by Schneider Electric, and has successfully deployed their novel battery management system technology. We're proud to have them in our community and eager to see the positive impact they'll have on the energy storage market."

According to the 2018 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, the clean energy sector in Massachusetts has grown 84 percent since 2010 and employs 110,700 workers across the state. The Massachusetts clean energy sector is a $13.2 billion industry, representing about 2.5 percent of the state’s overall economy.

This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy innovation sector, including recent initiatives announced in clean heating and cooling, energy storage and electric vehicle technologies. In August, Governor Baker signed legislation that will ensure Massachusetts remains a national leader in clean energy while reducing costs to ratepayers. The bill signed, An Act to Advance Clean Energy (H.4857), includes the Governor’s proposal to create the first Clean Peak Standard in the country, increases the Commonwealth’s energy storage target to 1,000 megawatt hours (MWh), increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard, expands the Mass Save® programs to allow for strategic electrification and other clean energy technologies, and authorizes the Department of Energy Resources to require an additional 1,600 megawatt (MW) of offshore wind to be procured by the electric distribution companies in Massachusetts.

"I’m very excited to see these businesses developing new technologies that will save energy, promote efficient uses, and solve many other problems,” said State Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville).

“As Massachusetts moves toward a cleaner, more energy-efficient future, I am pleased to see this investment in INRoof Solar, a terrific startup here in the Merrimack Valley,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “These funds will greatly help them expand and grow their business in Amesbury.”

“As a strong supporter of the legislation which created the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC), I’m always delighted when CEC is helping innovative Somerville businesses prosper and grow,” said State Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville).

“I am proud to support the efforts we are making in Massachusetts to invest in new technologies to help combat climate change, and so I’m excited to highlight the work of Camberline Technologies in Cambridge and Exact Lux in Somerville,” said State Representative Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge).  “I’m very hopeful with the help of this investment these startups will go on to advance our shared goal of building a brighter, greener future.”

MassCEC is funded by the Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998. A systems benefit charge paid by customers of investor owned utilities and five municipal electric departments that have opted into the program funds the trust.