BY DAN MINER republished from Buffalo Business First
Release date: January 3, 2019
Buffalo has a growing collection of startup companies that see an opportunity to build scalable tech while having a positive environmental impact. Here’s a look at some of the local clean-tech startups that have garnered attention from potential investors and customers.
The company was founded and seeded in Syracuse until its recent triumph as the $1 million grand prize winner in the 43North business competition. SparkCharge CEO Joshua Aviv will move to Buffalo in the coming months with big plans to prove his business and model and start growing significantly. SparkCharge has developed portable charging stations for electric vehicles.
Speaking of electric vehicles, Viridi Parente expects to be a significant manufacturer of high-quality electric motors and drive systems for the massive international construction industry, all from a former automotive factory on the East Side. Led by Chairman Jon Williams, Viridi Parente has already raised more than $7 million.
Graphenix Development CEO Robert Anstey is steering his company’s proprietary chemistry toward that market, which is much bigger than his previous focus in ultra capacitors. Anstey said his company is different from others developing longer-lasting, faster-charging batteries in that his products are built for large-scale manufacturing environments.
Sunny Clean Water
Three researchers associated with the University at Buffalo are commercializing a federally funded research project. Sunny Clean Water’s technology uses sunlight to generate clean water, a system that could have applications around the world. Sunny Clean Water is led by Qiaoqiang Gan, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering; recent electrical engineering Ph.D. recipient Haomin Song; and Zongmin Bei, a senior research support specialist in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Dimien burst on the scene after winning UB’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition in 2013 but then went quiet for a few years. It turns out the principals were hard at work. The company resurfaced in this year’s 43North competition and narrowly missed out on becoming one of the eight winners. But it still received funding from a venture capital firm that backs clean energy technologies and expects soon to begin manufacturing its portfolio of chemical components that can be used in laminates, plastics and other materials to improve existing products. Among the first potential uses for Dimien’s technology is a window that lets sunlight in when it’s cold and blocks the sun when it’s warm.
Another company that came to Buffalo in the 43North competition, CleanFiber manufactures building insulation from recycled corrugated cardboard. The company closed on $9.2 million in financing this year to help establish a full-fledged factory on the former Bethlehem Steel property in Blasdell, where it expects to employ about 30. The company plans to make the product out of the 60,000-square-foot facility early in 2019.
Warren Emblidge Jr., chairman of McCullagh Coffee Roasters, was struggling to divert food waste somewhere besides a landfill. His answer was a new company, EcoVerde Organics, which accepts a mix of food waste, horse manure and yard waste and turns it into composte. EcoVerde now operates on a seven-acre farm in East Aurora, received a $450,000 investment earlier this year and expects its compost formulation to scale well beyond Western New York.
Founded by Ralph Lewis and backed by some of the biggest names in Buffalo tech, Drone Energy developed modular computer systems that are sited near electricity plants, using excess energy to power those systems. The company is still searching for the right partner to start deploying its technology at greater scale.
Sustainable Development Goals:
8. Decent work & economic growth: Promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth that offers dynamic and valuable jobs
9. Industry , innovation, & infrastructure: Creating resilient infrastructure that promotes sustainable and constructive industrialization