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New Mentor Program to Help Clean Energy Small Businesses

February 16, 2011 - 2:00pm

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At the White House’s recent announcement of Startup America, a new initiative to promote high-growth entrepreneurship, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also announced the launch of an “Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps,” a one-year pilot program to connect clean energy startups with mentors.

The new mentoring initiative will pair clean energy small businesses with mentors who can help support these companies through early-stage challenges and increase their chance for success. The initiative targets clean energy small businesses who have previously received financial assistance from the Department through the Recovery Act.  

Here are a few of the small businesses that are participating in the pilot program. Check back to the Energy Blog for profiles of each of these innovative new companies in the coming weeks.

Algaeventure Systems (AVS) is taking key cost barriers out of growing and processing algae -- the dewatering and harvesting stages. The company’s harvester pulls water from the algae using capillary action. Compared to standard centrifuge based approaches, this innovation radically reduces the energy required to dewater algae or to separate valuable solids from dilute solutions generally. This could unlock the potential of algae for a range of valuable products, such as pharmaceuticals and fuels, as well as open up other applications, from oil spill recovery to food processing.

Gingko Bioworks engineers micro-organisms to solve challenges across a range of industries, from fuels to pharmaceutical production. Their biological engineers make use of a set of in-house synthetic biology technologies to design, build and test new organisms. The biotech firm has made energy a main focus through an unusual project -- modifying E. coli bacteria to consume electricity and carbon dioxide to produce liquid transportation fuels.

Ener-g-Rotors is helping their customers lower energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint by converting energy they’ve already paid for into electricity. Rather than throw away low temperature waste heat, customers can extract additional value from that energy. Ener-G-Rotors is developing a near frictionless expander for organic Rankine cycle power plants that can turn low temperature heat more efficiently into electricity, opening up a new market in industrial waste heat utilization and helping produce more power from solar thermal and geothermal installations.

Indie Energy is developing a state-of-the-art technology to make widespread geothermal heating and cooling feasible and to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Indie Energy's mission is to change the way buildings are conditioned and controlled, providing a clean and renewable platform that is economically and environmentally sustainable. Indie Energy’s Smart Geothermal Network technology provides on-site geothermal with online monitoring and optimization to improve performance and guarantee results.

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