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TransTech Energy Business Development Conference Announces Competition Winners

Business start-up winners from the pitch competition were announced at the end of the 4th Annual TransTech Energy Business Development Conference held Nov. 5-6 in Morgantown, W.Va.

The conference is an initiative of the TransTech Energy (TTE) program at West Virginia University.  The program highlights commercializable innovations coming out of research universities, national labs, private companies, other research and innovation centers, and even garages and basements.

The goal is to support and celebrate the entrepreneurial “ecosystem” that creates new companies, new jobs, and economic growth for the region.  “We are proud that our conference acts as a magnet for entrepreneurial talent in the region and as a showcase for innovative ideas that can be commercialized,” said Margaret Mattson, TTE program coordinator.

Start-up companies from five states pitched their innovations to panels of technology and industry experts, economic development professionals, and investors.

Fairmont Brine Processing, based in Fairmont, WV was awarded the $2,500 INNOVA award for the

Carl Irwin and

Carl Irwin (L) presents Avishai Geller of Maven Machines with the $10,000 First Place award for the top-ranked company.

Highest Ranked WV-based Start-up Company.  The firm has a patented evaporation/crystallization technology to recycle waste water from shale gas drilling, which produces distilled water, salt, and liquid calcium chloride.

Other winners included:

  • $10,000 First Place for Top-Ranked Company

Maven Machines, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Wireless headsets for truck drivers that detect if a driver is fatigued, drowsy, or distracted.  The device alerts the driver and company office if there is risk of an accident. Headsets incorporate accelerometers, gyroscopes, compass and GPS to monitor driver condition and can be integrated with bluetooth communication sets.

  • $10,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Technical Assistance

H Quest Vanguard, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Technology uses focused electromagnetic energy to convert fossil/bio feedstocks to synthetic crude oil and coal tar pitch – based on ARPA-E supported research at PNNL –  near-term growth market is for coal tar pitch.

  • $10,000 WVU Research Office Technical Assistance

Hadron Technologies, Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.
Industrial-scale microwave heating technologies to process materials ranging from plastics to metals and superalloys – based on microwave technologies developed at Oak Ridge National Lab that are covered by multiple patents now held by the U.S. DOE.

  • $5,000 Runner-Up for Top-Ranked Company

Lumishield Technologies, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Aluminum electroplating process for applying anti-corrosion coatings to carbon steel products.  The process provides alternative to use of toxic metal coatings that use chromium and cadmium.

  • $5,000 Runner-Up for Top-Ranked Company

Multi-functional Proppants, Euclid, Ohio
Three product lines of proppants to improve shale gas fracking.

  • $5,000 TransTech Energy Alumni Fund

Mosaic Power, Frederick, Md.

Internet enabled technology to aggregate numerous electric hot water heaters and provide smoothing to fluctuations in the Frequency Trading Market.

  • $2,500 INNOVA Award for Highest Ranked WV-based Start-up Company

Fairmont Brine Processing, Fairmont, W.Va.

A patented evaporation/crystallization technology to recycle waste water from shale gas drilling, which produces distilled water, salt, and liquid calcium chloride.

Keynote presenter Cheryl Martin, former interim director of U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

Keynote presenter Cheryl Martin, former interim director of U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

Dr. Cheryl Martin, a former interim director of U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy gave the keynote address.  In taking technology to market, she stressed “value, team and implementation” as the key ingredients to improving yield.  She also encouraged participants to “be specific—not aspirational—with your planning metrics.”

Over 160 people attended the two-day event and 43 exhibitors participated in a “Link-Up and Learn” reception, which featured “Emerging Innovations from WVU Research Labs.” Fifteen WVU research teams participated.

In discussing why he chose to attend the conference, Raffi Mardirosian of Flagship Ventures said, “We’re looking for big and transformative investment opportunities.”

Ann Barth LUnch Time Speakers 2 - Copy (002)

Panelists discuss access to capital and technical assistance for startups. L-R, Anne Barth; Jennifer Giovannitti of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

During a panel discussion on accessing capital for startup ventures, ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl observed that “Appalachia is the next great investment opportunity,” so conferences like TransTech are important to keep the pipeline of new ideas and innovations full, while also encouraging more translational research.

Carl Irwin, founder and director of the WVU TransTech Research and Business Development Program, characterizes “TransTech” as transitional technologies that reduce carbon emissions, promote advanced manufacturing, and help build an energy efficient and sustainable economy for the future.  The scope of the technologies pitched at all four TTE conferences since 2012 has been very broad and included bio-materials/energy, carbon capture and reduction, energy storage, engines and compressors, renewable energy, sensors and monitoring, shale gas, synfuels and chemicals, and water monitoring and treatment.

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