State Officials Announce $595,000 in Funding for Water and Clean Energy Innovation

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Kathryn Niforos
Feb 24, 2016 –

The Baker-Polito Administration, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), today announced $595,000 in funding to support clean energy and water technology innovation in six communities across the Commonwealth. The funding, which comes from MassCEC’s Catalyst and InnovateMass programs, will support clean energy and water projects in Bedford, Somerville, Cambridge, Amesbury, Scituate and Boston.

“Innovative Massachusetts companies are developing technologies that will help address the energy and water resource challenges before us, while creating jobs in Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This funding will support the Commonwealth’s robust and growing clean energy and water innovation sectors.”

“Massachusetts is a leader in innovation, and supporting cleantech and water startups helps companies and researchers develop products while growing business opportunities across the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. 

The programs that received funding support innovations as they progress through different stages of a company’s development cycle. Several past Catalyst awardees have later gone on to receive InnovateMass funding, such as Menon Laboratories, Inc., who will receive InnovateMass funding in this round.

“Supporting innovation drives technology breakthroughs that help the Commonwealth meet our ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, while fueling local business growth and creating local jobs,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.

“Supporting these early-stage companies helps address persistent funding gaps, increases business opportunities for new companies and attracts private investment to Massachusetts businesses, spurring innovation in this thriving sector,” said MassCEC Interim CEO Stephen Pike.

Catalyst, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, provides grants for early- stage researchers and companies to help them demonstrate the commercial viability of clean energy and water technologies. Since the Catalyst program launched in 2010, MassCEC has awarded $2.45 million to 62 research teams. Past awardees have raised over $45 million in follow on funding, formed seven new companies, received 68 new patents, and issued 44 new research publications.

“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.

For more developed early-stage companies, InnovateMass funds clean energy and water technology demonstration projects, which are designed to field test the real world applications of innovations. InnovateMass helps companies bridge the funding gap between early- and late-stage companies widely known as the Commercialization Valley of Death. InnovateMass has awarded $2.2 million in funding for demonstration projects across the Commonwealth since its launch in 2013, leveraging $3.1 million in other private and public investment.

Organizations and researchers receiving $40,000 grants under the Catalyst program are:

AquaFresco (Boston), Dr. Alina Rwei: A water filtration system, focused specifically on regenerating wastewater in the cleaning industry that contains detergents. The technology has the potential to save over 3 trillion gallons of water in the United States annually by allowing previously wasted water to be reused.

Evaptainers (Somerville), Quang Truong: A mobile refrigeration system that runs without electricity, which is ideal for low-income and off-grid areas.

MultiSensor Scientific (Somerville), Dr. Allen Waxman: An infrared imaging system capable of detecting methane emissions from natural gas leaks, which can be used to reduce energy losses.

Northeastern University (Boston), Dr. Mahshid Amirabadi: An inverter for residential solar electricity systems, which increases the lifetime of the system, while reducing costs associated with it.

SafvE (Scituate), Shirley Young: An environmentally-friendly, cost-effective polymer coating that treats and sanitizes water by reducing the amount of live bacteria to less than 0.001 percent of the original concentration.

Sandymount Technologies (Cambridge), Dr. Ronan McGovern: A filtration technology that allows beverage makers, such as breweries, to remove water from beverages before shipping without affecting taste. Removing the water before shipment and rehydrating later reduces shipping costs and energy used during transport.

Semlux Technologies (Bedford), Dr. Jagannathan Ravi: A process that reuses previously-wasted silicon to manufacture new solar cells, using 90 percent less energy than the current industry standard.

Organizations receiving up to $150,000 in funding under the InnovateMass program are:

Menon Laboratories, Inc. (Somerville): Aims to install and field-test a water filtration unit at the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Testing Center in Barnstable County that will evaluate membrane performance for wastewater treatment.

Resolute Marine Energy, Inc. (Amesbury): A seawater-compatible hydraulic pumping system, which will generate power to purify seawater.

WindESCo (Boston): A software technology that is expected to improve performance of a large-scale wind farm in Cohocton, New York.

"This funding from MassCEC is important because Amesbury's own Resolute Marine Energy is not only focused on generating electricity from wave energy, but is also focused on innovations in reverse osmosis to purify seawater into drinking water, which could help millions of people that don't have direct access to clean water," said State Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives, D-Newburyport.

“I am very excited about the announcement of these grants. This is terrific news for the Commonwealth and for the City of Amesbury. It is always great to hear about new technologies here in Massachusetts, and I look forward to seeing what Resolute Marine Energy will accomplish in water and energy technology,” said State Representative James Kelcourse, R-Amesbury.

Funding for these programs comes from MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust. The Renewable Energy Trust was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998 as part of the deregulation of the electric utility market. The trust is funded by a systems benefit charge paid by Massachusetts electric customers of investor-owned utilities, such as Eversource and National Grid, as well as municipal electric departments that have opted to participate in the program. The average monthly charge is 32 cents for an average residential ratepayer.