The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $280,000 in funding for seven 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 clean energy and water research in Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, Medford, North Grafton, Somerville and Waltham.
“The Commonwealth’s entrepreneurs and researchers are developing groundbreaking solutions to address the energy and water resource challenges before us,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Supporting these innovators creates jobs, strengthens our growing cleantech sector and will help the Commonwealth meet our ambitious clean energy and environmental goals.”
“Massachusetts is the epicenter for clean energy and water innovation, turning promising ideas into growing businesses across the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is excited to support these promising entrepreneurs and researchers.”
The Catalyst program, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC), provides funding to early-stage researchers and companies as they work towards bringing promising products and technologies to market.
“Supporting researchers and early-stage entrepreneurs drives the innovation the Commonwealth needs to meet our greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This funding will support technological breakthroughs to protect our environment, while fueling local business growth and creating local jobs.”
“These grants will help promising early-stage companies and university technologies bridge early-stage funding ‘valleys of death,’ increase business opportunities and attract private investment to Massachusetts businesses,” said MassCEC Interim CEO Stephen Pike. “The Catalyst program is one more tool we are using to cultivate innovation in this thriving sector.”
The following awardees each received a $40,000 grant:
- Dr. Chul Park (University of Massachusetts) – Amherst – Dr. Park’s team is developing a biological wastewater treatment process that will dramatically reduce operational energy costs at wastewater treatment plants, while also allowing plant operators to recover and use otherwise-wasted energy.
- Wright Electric Airplanes (Jeff Engler) – Boston – Wright Electric Airplanes is developing electric-powered passenger aircraft, with funding supporting data acquisition and in-air experimental flights.
- Dr. Alan Hatton (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – Cambridge – Dr. Hatton’s team is developing an energy-saving water purification system focused on the removal of contaminants and heavy metals.
- Dr. Marc Hodes (Tufts University) – Medford – Dr. Hodes is developing a technology to lower the amount of energy needed to cool computing data centers, large consumers of energy.
- Battery Resourcers, LLC (Dr. Eric Gratz) – North Grafton – Battery Resourcers is developing a recycling process using materials from spent batteries in new lithium-ion batteries.
- NewGrid (Dr. Pablo Ruiz) – Somerville – NewGrid is developing software to help electric transmission operators re-route electricity on the grid in times of system congestion, potentially saving billions of dollars in congestion costs and allowing for uninterrupted transmission of renewable power.
- CoolComposites, Inc. (Alan Ransil) – Waltham – CoolComposites is developing an additive for foam insulation that would absorb heat, lowering the amount of energy needed to cool a building.
Since the program’s launch in 2010, the Catalyst program has provided $2.73 million in grants to 69 companies and research teams across the Commonwealth. Past awardees have gone on to raise more than $100 million in follow-on financing from various sources, including angel investors, venture capitalists and grants from federal programs including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the National Science Foundation and the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR).
In addition, Catalyst awardees have hired over 140 new employees, received or filed patents for 104 new pieces of intellectual property and issued 58 research publications.
“As prior awardees have shown, this funding can be truly catalytic in helping to build entrepreneurial ventures in Massachusetts,” said MTTC Founding Director Abigail Barrow. “These grants, while very small, enable inventors to take technologies from idea to early prototype to demonstrate that the technology works. The results of these grants then enable the inventors to raise additional commercialization funding.”
The Catalyst program will open for applications again this fall, with grants of up to $65,000 available for researchers and entrepreneurs looking to further advance their technologies.
Catalyst is funded through MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1997. The trust is funded by municipal electric departments that have opted to participate in the program, along with a systems benefit charge paid by electric customers of investor-owned utilities in the state.
“Funding early stage researchers and projects is critical to success of innovative projects and ideas. With this funding UMass Amherst will be able to continue their important work on clean drinking water to develop important new technologies for the future,” said State Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “I think the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Baker Administration for recognizing these important projects by awarding this grant funding.”
“This is the second time in as many months that the University of Massachusetts has received major support from the Baker Administration for clean energy innovation,” said State Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst). “I am so proud of the University’s leadership in sustainability, and for its commitment to clean water technology.”
“This grant funding is critical to supporting clean energy research and development in our Commonwealth,” said State Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury). “I extend my congratulations to Battery Resourcers in Grafton on receiving funding for the development of recycling processes that support a greener future. I also commend EEA, MassCEC and MTTC for their ongoing commitment to advancing clean energy initiatives that have the potential to revolutionize the industry.”
“It is great to know that researchers and companies within our community are helping Massachusetts move towards a clean energy environment,” said State Representative David Muradian, (R-Grafton). “I am proud of Battery Resourcers from Grafton and will continue to support their efforts towards a green initiative in our Commonwealth.”