Fraunhofer, TechBridge, and Greentown Labs Team Up to PROPEL Cleantech Startups

© Fraunhofer CSE

In the heart of Boston’s Innovation District lies Fraunhoufer’s Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE), Fraunhoufer’s state-of-the-art research and development facility for the commercialization of clean energy technologies. At CSE, labs are ready to develop prototypes and deploy field demonstrations, in addition to providing fellowship and internship opportunities for researchers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals.

TechBridge is a technology commercialization program that Dr. Johanna Wolfson manages. The program strives to help early-stage clean technology startups hit the ground running by proving their value to investors and the industry. In addition to technical help, CSE allows startups to enjoy fundraising support and its vast network of investors and strategic partners—all at no cost.

The CSE building is a 2013 retrofit of a 100 year old building designed and reconstructed by the latest in energy conservation technologies. A couple features worth mentioning are the temperature control system and the “Synergy Elevator.” Passive air conditioning and laminar cooling systems provide a steady, uniform velocity along parallel flow of air to allow people to stay cool without cooling the entire room. The elevator, on the other hand, uses a gearless motor and a highly efficient brake system called “regenerative breaking” that recaptures a lion portion of the power and sends it back to the grid. It also produces less heat compared to conventional elevators.

The building is a wonderful showcase of the latest developments in energy efficiency technologies. More recently, though, Fraunhoufer’s TechBridge teamed up with fellow industry leader Greentown Labs to create PROPEL, a 6-month prototype development program for cleantech startups that utilizes TechBridge’s technology support and Greentown Labs’ incubation space. Greentown Labs, which is the nation’s largest cleantech incubator, additionally allows startups access to equipment, software, and business resources.

The PROPEL program’s mission is to create a more interconnected world through supporting innovations in self-powered Wireless Sensor-Actuator Networks (WSANs). Such startups will develop technologies and prototypes for distributed sensing and actuation networks and customer validation. PROPEL launched in April, 2015 and will use an application and screening process to select up to five teams that will begin working in Greentown Labs in September, 2015. In addition to prototype development, technical guidance, expert feedback from investors and industry partners, and incubation space, accepted companies will receive $10,000 in non-dilutive funding.

As a professional writing services company, TRA360 has been working with cleantech startups since 2011 and entrepreneurs since 1991.

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What To Do About High Gas Prices?

Many of us have heard the rumors about gas prices increasing to nearly $5 per gallon in just two short months from now. Unfortunately, at the rate gas prices are steadily increasing, this myth may be a harsh reality for anyone with an oil-powered automobile. A.K.A. most of the United States.

The uncertainty about oil supply due to Middle East turmoil attribute to the skyrocketing gas prices, but also shows us that the US dollar’s worth is declining and so is our purchasing power. And fast.

The article, “There is Something We Can Do About High Gas Prices”, suggests that in our current state where we have little to no control over the astonishingly high gas prices the US should consider additional gas drilling and creating more of a market for solar and wind powered eco-friendly products, including electrical cars.

What do you think about skyrocketing gas prices? Will you continue to use your gas guzzling car and shell out hundreds of dollars per month or will you cut back on travel? At what price limit do you think society will make the shift to driving electric and renewable energy automobiles? Comment below and let us know your thoughts! 

Faisal Hoque’s Power of Convergence

Faisal Hoque's _The Power of Convergence_I recently received a complimentary copy of Faisal Hoque’s new book The Power of Convergence: Linking Business Strategies and Technology Decisions to Create Sustainable Success. While this is quite a mouthful for a book title and subtitle, the book is well worth the read. In the area of Business Technology Management (BTM), Hoque is a real pro.

Busy professionals might not have or might not want to take the time to read the book cover to cover. If so, don’t fear. Scan the Contents pages and read topics of interest. It’s not as useful as reading the entire book, but you’ll see the value, and can finish the book over time.

As the owner of a mid-sized, full-service communications agency, the chapters that leapt out at me were:

  • Chapter 6, Size Doesn’t Matter: How Small Enterprises Benefit from Strategic Investment Management
  • Chapter 8, Creating Business Agility
  • Chapter 10, Driving Operational Excellence

Hoque’s writing style is direct and almost conversational, as if he’s speaking directly to the reader. He summarizes key theoretical points in a very accessible way and also includes many real-world examples throughout to help readers see theories in action. Sometimes he takes the opposite approach which is equally effective. One of the funniest and most educational stories comes from the cartoon satire South Park, and the tale of the underpants gnomes. It’s a great satire of poor business planning and I won’t try to repeat it. Foque uses this as a launching pad to discuss the key steps in the operational excellence journey…nice.

In summary, I’d recommend picking up and reading Faisal Hoque’s book. You can use it as a reference, a how-to guide, or for ways to start and stimulate business conversations inside your organization.

Advocating for CleanTech in Washington, D.C.

Cleantech/Greentech imagePeter Rothstein, president, New England Clean Energy Council wrote a great article entitled “Why cleantech can’t afford to ignore Washington, D.C.” that appeared on the Mass High Tech website today. Peter’s article is provocative and well worth a read by anyone who works in the cleantech/greentech industry, or has a concern for the planet’s welfare and those who inhabit it.

Peter notes right from the start what a difference a year can make. In 2010 politicians were talking about “comprehensive climate and energy legislation.” But in 2011 no one thinks comprehensive energy legislation will pass this year. As a bellwether, look to the Clean Energy Standard (CES) President Obama was pushing a few months ago. What are the chances of the CES making its way into a bill? Slim to none.

So, what are we supposed to do in terms of clean energy policy, give up? Heck no. Read Peter’s article to find out why it’s more important than ever to not give up the fight. And, more importantly, make your voice heard!