TransTech Energy start-up competition awards over $50,000 to regional entrepreneurs

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December 7, 2015 by TransTech Energy News

Avishai Geller of Maven Machines is on the clock making his final business pitch before winning $10,000 as the TransTech Energy top-ranked company. (Photo by Tracy Novak)

Avishai Geller of Maven Machines is on the clock making his final business pitch before
winning $10,000 as the TransTech Energy top-ranked company. (Photo by Tracy Novak)

Morgantown, W.Va. – Winners from the business start-up competition at the 4th Annual TransTech Energy Business Development Conference held in Morgantown, W.Va. were announced recently. Cash awards and prizes presented to outstanding start-up companies totaled $53,500.

The conference is an initiative of the TransTech Energy 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 TTE 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, W.Va. was awarded the $2,500 INNOVA award for the highest ranked West Virginia start-up company. The firm has a patented evaporation and crystallization technology to recycle waste water from shale gas drilling, which produces distilled water, salt and liquid calcium chloride.

WVU TransTech Energy Director Carl Irwin gets a hug from Baxter the Industrial Robot at the recent TTE Business Development Conference. (Photo by Tracy Novak)

WVU TransTech Energy Director Carl Irwin gets a hug from Baxter the Industrial Robot at
the recent TTE Business Development Conference. (Photo by Tracy Novak)

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 and bio feedstocks to synthetic crude oil and 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.

$5,000 Runner-up for Top Ranked Company
LumiShield Technologies, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Aluminum electroplating process for applying anti-corrosion coatings to carbon steel. The process provides alternative to 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 Alumni Fund Award
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 In-kind Arnett Carbis Toothman Technical Assistance Award
One Oak Systems, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Distributed sensors that provide real time HVAC controls by using machine learning
algorithms and adjustable vent covers.

$2,500 In-kind Robert C. Byrd Institute Technical Assistance Award
Carbon Free Innovations, Athens, Ohio
A combined heat and power system using biomass-based gasification and free piston
Sterling engine technology.

$1,000 Scott Rotruck Award for Best “0 to 1” Innovation
General Graphene, LLC, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Chemical vapor deposition technology to produce one square meter size sheets of graphene, a product used by semiconductor, electronics, battery, energy and composites industries.

Additional awards are listed at

Dr. Cheryl Martin, 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.”

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

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.

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” with 15 WVU research teams participating.

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 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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Contact: Tracy Novak, TransTech Energy,