MassCEC Awards $200,000 in Clean Energy Research Grants to Massachusetts Cleantech Innovators

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Kathryn Niforos
Jul 2, 2014 –

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) today announced $200,000 in grants to Massachusetts entrepreneurs and researchers to advance clean technology innovation. 

"The award winners announced today are striving to create the next generation of solutions to global clean energy challenges and this critical early-stage funding will speed the pace of innovation,” said MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton.

The MassCEC Catalyst Program, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by MTTC, awards early-stage researchers and companies grant awards up to $40,000 to help demonstrate the commercial viability of clean energy technology developed at startup companies or spun out of research institutions.

“As prior awardees have shown, this funding can be truly catalytic in helping to build entrepreneurial ventures in Massachusetts. 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,” said Abigail Barrow, director of the MTTC.

Previous Catalyst award winners have gone on to raise over $22 million in follow-on funding 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). Recipients must use funding for projects that move their technologies towards commercialization.

The following researchers will each receive $40,000 grants:

  • Mark Brandstein and Dan Thompson,  UltraCell Insulation, Newton – UltraCell is commercializing a patent for making building insulation from all recycled cardboard to uniquely address the $7 billion insulation industry’s challenge of tighter building insulation codes, green building material content requirements, and a dwindling supply of newspaper print used to make cellulose insulation products today. The award money will be used to support a sufficiently large research and pilot production run scheduled for this summer to gain a wider review and evaluation of their product by potential customers, distributors and partners. 
  • Helen VanBenschoten,  Compas Industries, Fall River – Compas Industries has invented a novel hybrid solar cell with competitive efficiencies, very low cost, and earth friendly materials. The award will enable them to purchase key equipment, lease lab space, and pay a part time research assistant so they can complete their prototype cell development and submit prototypes to their potential customer for evaluation.
  • Jaime Mateus, Anfiro, Cambridge – Anfiro is developing the next generation of membranes for water treatment and purification. Their technology significantly reduces the energy and cost of water treatment, enabling clean and affordable water. MassCEC's Catalyst award will enable them to expand their pilot data in preparation for scaling their technology.
  • T. Alan Hatton and Aly Eltayeb, “Electrochemically-mediated CO2 Capture”​Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge – Hatton and Eltayeb have developed a new technology for the capture of carbon dioxide from large-scale power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This technology can also be used readily at a smaller scale for environmental control in large commercial buildings, and in small enclosed spaces such as submarines and spacecraft. The award will be used to build a small-scale demonstration unit as a prototype for full-scale deployment of this scalable technology.
  • Brian Neltner,  Microreactor Solutions, SomervilleMicroreactor Solutions is developing unique conductive materials that will reduce the expense of manufacturing solar cells by reducing the need for silver paste. This Catalyst grant will be used to take these conductive materials, incorporate them into samples, get them into the hands of manufacturers for evaluation, and begin the process of scaling up to pilot plant production scales.

About the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center

The Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) was created in 2004 as a program in the Massachusetts Economic Stimulus Bill. Its goal is to support technology transfer activities from public and private research institutions to companies in Massachusetts. To achieve this goal, the Center works with technology transfer offices at Massachusetts research institutions; faculty, researchers, and students who have commercially promising ideas; and companies across the Commonwealth. The MTTC is based in the University of Massachusetts President’s Office. More information is available at