Baker-Polito Administration Announces Grants for Early-Stage Cleantech Innovators

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Kathryn Niforos
Apr 13, 2018 –

The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $455,000 to seven early-stage researchers and companies developing innovative clean energy and water technologies across the Commonwealth. The funding, which comes from The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Catalyst program, will support technical and commercial advancements for emerging clean energy technologies in North Oxford, BurlingtonWorcester, Fall River, Cambridge, Lowell, and Arlington.

“Massachusetts is home to many hardworking entrepreneurs and researchers pursuing innovative clean energy solutions that will ensure the Commonwealth continues to lead the nation in energy efficiency,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through this funding, our administration is pleased to provide crucial support to these entrepreneurs as they contribute to the Commonwealth’s robust innovation economy while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.” 

“Supporting researchers and early-stage companies helps to drive innovation, job creation and economic activity throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is committed to supporting Massachusetts’ cleantech industry, and proud to provide needed startup funds to the local innovators who are developing the technologies to address our most pressing energy and water challenges.”

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 launched in 2010, Catalyst has awarded $3.64 million to 83 new companies and research teams. Past awardees have raised over $157 million in follow-on funding.

“Enabling Massachusetts’ innovators to pursue new advancements in technology is essential to sustaining a vibrant innovation ecosystem that helps the Commonwealth progress towards our emissions reduction targets,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By making key investments in local entrepreneurs, Massachusetts is reinforcing its reputation as a hub for clean energy innovation.”

“These early-stage companies are pursuing technology breakthroughs that will lead to further growth and job creation within Massachusetts’ cleantech sector,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “As a result of this strategic support, these local entrepreneurs will be in a better position to secure significant private investment and ultimately introduce disruptive clean energy technologies into the market.”

“The Catalyst awardees represent some of the most exciting new innovations coming out of our research universities and start-up companies,” said MTTC Director Abigail Barrow. “These awards will enable them to show the commercial viability of their inventions while also supporting their quest to raise additional funds to grow into sustainable businesses.”

The following awardees will each receive $65,000:

Aclarity, LLC (North Oxford): An electrochemical water treatment device targeting the residential market that combats water quality issues at a competitive price

Boston Materials, LLC (Burlington): Development of a carbon fiber composite material that will enable the construction of lighter, larger, and more reliable wind turbine blades

Kinetic Batteries, LLC (Worcester): A new lithium-ion battery electrode manufacturing process that simplifies electrode processing, reducing the costs, emissions, and energy consumption associated with battery manufacturing

Littoral Power Systems, Inc. (Fall River): A hydrokinetic energy device designed for low current applications

Takachar (Cambridge): A small-scale, decentralized biomass pre-processing system for use in agricultural or remote areas in developing economies

UMass Lowell (Lowell), Onur G. Apul, PhD: A microwave-based method for increasing biogas production at wastewater treatment facilities

Vata Verks (Arlington): An inexpensive water- and gas-usage measuring system to detect anomalies and leaks and enable sophisticated building energy management

According to the 2017 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, the clean energy sector in Massachusetts has grown 81 percent since 2010 and employs 109,226 workers across the state. The Massachusetts clean energy sector is an $11.4 billion industry, representing 2.3 percent of the state’s overall economy. According to the report, Massachusetts is No. 1 in the United States for per capita early-stage clean energy venture investment, beating out California.

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. Governor Baker recently filed legislation to authorize over $1.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and investing in communities.  Under the legislation, DOER would be directed to create a new clean peak standard for electricity suppliers to increase the usage of clean energy during periods of high, carbon intensive, and expensive electricity demand. This week, Governor Baker filed legislation to require that a home energy scorecard, energy rating, and information on recommended energy efficiency improvements be provided to homeowners as part of free residential energy efficiency assessments, and after January 1, 2021, would require that home energy performance ratings be made available to potential homebuyers when one to four unit family homes are publicly listed for sale. In August 2016, Governor Baker signed bipartisan comprehensive energy diversification legislation designed to reduce energy costs while strengthening the state’s clean energy economy and progressing towards Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas reduction requirements.

“Central Massachusetts is a growing hub for the innovation and green economy,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I am very proud to see Worcester’s own Kinetic Batteries recognized and awarded with this Catalyst grant to continue its great work.”

“MassCEC’s Catalyst Program continues to support and grow the Commonwealth’s clean energy economy by funding a variety of research and early-stage projects in the clean energy industry,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.  “I would like to thank the Baker-Polito administration and MassCEC for awarding these grants and supporting UMass Lowell’s research in increasing biogas production at wastewater treatment facilities.”

“Massachusetts is recognized as a national leader for its efforts to promote clean and efficient energy policies,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).  “The grants announced today will provide emerging start-ups with the financial and technical assistance they need to ensure that Massachusetts will continue to lead the way in developing innovative clean energy technologies.”

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.