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Blog Entries With Tag "2009"

PowerSTAR wins Most Innovative Product Award

Posted by at 9:45 AM, 12/16/2010


On Friday December 10th Multispark, LLC, a 2009 California Semifinalist,  was awarded the 2010 CONNECT Most Innovative Product Award for Clean Tech for our PowerSTAR Performance Spark Plug.

Read more here:

Additionally, in November, the company received a grant from the CA Energy Commission EISG for $95,000 .

The grant is titled “Application of Novelty Spark Plug in Compressed Natural Gas Engines”.

The grant money will be used to design, build, and test the spark plugs in CNG fueled municipal buses. While CNG is considered the cleanest fuel for large heavy duty applications, the current spark plug technology is based on 100 year old basic single electrode design technology. Multispark will show that the technology can also reduce emissions and green house gases by using the spark plug in Natural Gas fuel and heavy duty applications.



PowerSTAR® bridges present combustion technology with future alternative fuels today!



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2009 Alumni Success: ZERE

Posted by at 7:30 PM, 10/13/2010

ZERE has been selected to present at the 23rd Annual National Renewable Energy Laboratory Industry Growth Forum (NREL IGF), the premier event of innovative cleantech companies, venture capitalists, corporate investors, and strategic partners. Since 2003, the presenting seed, early stage, and expanding cleantech companies have collectively raised more than $3.4 billion in growth financing.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 23rd Industry Growth Forum is to be held in Denver, Colorado on October 19-21, 2010. ZERE was a 2009 Cleantech Open runner-up in the Renewable Energy category. For more information and registration, please see 

ZERE has also been selected for participation in National Renewable Energy Laboratory Commercialization Assistance Program (NREL NCAP) in which NREL will work with ZERE on technical analysis leading towards commercialization of ZERE's biofuels system. ZERE's pilot test rig is being designed for construction and testing at NREL.

This news follows on the heels of ZERE being awarded $100,000 funding and $50,000 services from Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (NIREC) to move research towards commercialization. With these funds, ZERE will model and design its test reactor system for generating zero emissions heat and power, sized for the pilot to follow at NREL.

“The Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (NIREC) transforms clean energy ideas into sustainable businesses. With a focus on renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency, NIREC launches early stage companies centered on the commercialization and widespread deployment of renewable energy solutions.”

In addition, ZERE has been selected to submit a full proposal for a joint DOE/USDA funding opportunity, Biomass Research and Development Initiative.  ZERE is leading a consortium formed with Stanford University, University of Nevada, Reno,  the Desert Research Institute (DRI), National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL), and a former EPRI expert to lead biomass research. This follows having received a positive assessment and recommendation for future funding from the California Energy Commission (CEC), for completion of ZERE/Stanford California Energy Commission Energy Innovation Small Grant (EISG) Phase I funded research ($95,000) in 2008 - 2010.  ZERE has worked with Dr. Reginald Mitchell, Professor of Mechanical Engineer and Director of the High Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory at Stanford University to perform the CEC grant work and will continue this research at Stanford and University of Nevada Reno, with potential DOE/USDA grant funding awarded in early 2011.

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ZERE Selected As $150,000 Grant Finalist

Posted by at 2:00 PM, 05/11/2010

Congratulations to ZERE, a Cleantech Open 2009 semifinalist and runner up in the renewables category.

ZERE was just chosen as one of 5 (out of roughly 45) early stage clean energy teams to present on May 18th to NIREC (Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization) for 1 - 2 grants to be awarded in June. The total value of the potential grant award is up to $150,000 ($100K cash + 50K EIR services) to be used to achieve pre-commercialization goals.

This follows having completed Phase I research with Stanford in 2008 - 09 using a CEC ESIG PIER grant of $95,000 that ZERE was awarded. At Stanford, they were able to prove their technology of zero-emission-renewable-energy (ZERE) production, using biomass waste in a fuel reactor with a solid state reaction that produces energy and no green house gas emissions. Their goal is to partner with biomass waste producers to install and run independent energy generation plants fueled by the partner's biomass waste (e.g. urban waste, forestry waste, etc.).

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Micromidas Wins $3.6 Million – An Interview with CEO John Bissell

Posted by at 3:15 PM, 05/03/2010

Micromidas, the 2009 Air Water & Waste category winner and a runner-up for the national prize, recently scored $3.6 million in a Series A funding round. The Davis, California-based company converts carbon from wastewater into strong bioplastics. While the company participated in the 2009 competition, they steadily progressed with their technology and building out their company. With this new funding from Alex Millar and other angel investors that represent the plastics and packaging industry, the company is keeping very busy. I caught a few moments with CEO John Bissell to ask him about how things are going.

Katie Roberts: How did this funding opportunity come about?

John Bissell: We were approached by our investors out of the blue. It wasn’t through our extended network. It was basically a marketing driven find -- they found us through various articles written about us and by talking to people. They heard about what we do and contacted me directly. I’ve put in a lot of work to build a network in Silicon Valley and it surprised me that they weren’t part of our network. That’s rare though; obviously the network still matters.

KR: What's the biggest thing you've learned about trying to get funding, as a startup?

JB: Every investor is different. Frequently investors are thought of as just the venture capitalist side, taking an equity slice. They’re thought of as having all the same expectations. If you have a pitch, then you create it to be whatever a generic VC would want to see. But individual VCs have different strategies for their 5 and 10 year funds. They have different expectations, different domain expertise, [and] different ways of working with their partners. So you need to have an understanding of the strategy of the investor. You can hone the pitch perfectly for what they’re looking for. It’s all about that one conversation. Getting that hook really matters.

KR: What advice would you offer to other companies that are startups looking for funding?

JB: It’s really easy to forget about everything else when you’re raising money. My family always says that having money is like breathing -- when you have it you don’t notice it, but when it starts to get short, it’s the only thing you ever think about. When you’re a startup raising money it feels like that’s the only thing that matters. In reality it’s not. I was personally raising money full time for six months. I didn’t do anything else. If my team had frozen for any time during that period then we wouldn’t have made it. We wouldn’t have been able to keep going as a company. But we would be way behind if we hadn’t been able to raise money. So having at least one a partner [beyond yourself] is critical. You need one person to run and develop the business with the technology. And you need one person raising money, because it’s a full time job.

KR: What's next for Micromidas, with this funding? Any interesting plans for the next few months?

JB: We just put a kilo scale unit online that’s 50 to 100 liter. It demonstrated the process, which was exciting and we got really good results. In the next two months we should have a pilot scale unit up and operating. That’s our core focus right now.

KR: Are you hiring anyone with that new funding?

JB: We are hiring! We just gave out and signed five offer letters in the last two weeks, and we’re going to sign three more in the next month. We’re hiring at a relatively rapid pace. We were looking at our headcount and determining that we had to fill 8-12 slots, and that meant we had to find seven people not currently in our network. That just sounded so brutal. It takes time to find talent. And it matters not just how good the person is and what their experience is, but how they fit into the team. We were really lucky because four [people] popped up with exactly [the skills] we were looking for, so that was really great.

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