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Jeffrey Simon

Jeffrey Simon

Director, MA Recovery & Reinvestment Office

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One of the hallmarks of the Recovery Act is its dual objectives within each of its programs: Creating jobs for today and developing industries for tomorrow.

Ginkgo-bioworksNowhere is this more in evidence than in the Recovery Act’s investment in clean energy. The state received $245 million in clean energy and environment programs. In total, federal and state stimulus investments in energy/environment in Massachusetts was $790 million.

I recently visited a number of companies that received stimulus grants through the federal Department of Energy and saw firsthand the impact these companies are having now on their employees and the potential impact the products these companies are developing will have on our country’s economic and environmental future.

One of these companies, Ginkgo BioWorks, received a $3.5 million grant from the Department of Energy as well as a $99K Small Business Innovation Research grant. The company is engineering organisms in an attempt to develop an alternative fuel source. If successful, the product would have enormous implications for our reliance on imported fuel as well as what we are emitting into the Resolute-marine-energyenvironment. The stimulus grants are helping them do the critical research and development they need to do to develop this fuel. It also created 19 crucial jobs.

Another company I visited, Resolute Marine Energy, is developing a wave energy converter that will generate energy from the power of waves. They received a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Energy to help them develop this futuristic looking product that captures energy from the action of the waves. The vision of Resolute co-founder Bill Staby is that there will be a field of these wave energy converters generating useable energy. “We want to build a device small enough that it can be easily deployed,” he told me. According to Staby the stimulus funds were “hugely helpful” in helping the company develop and test the wave converter, as well as hire the employees they needed to get the product built.

CoincidentAt Coincident, which is housed in a six-story abandoned building in South Boston shared by other clean energy companies and dubbed Greentown Labs, the goal is to develop an energy management system that homeowners can use to manage their energy use more efficiently. Jason Hanna, the company’s founder told me that the company’s $1.1 million stimulus award from the Department of Energy was a “tremendous opportunity.” He noted that while there are other companies in this space, Coincident’s goal was to make their system affordable.

Pellion Technologies is working on the issue of the moment in the startup world: How to build a cheaper, longer lasting battery. Pellion’s idea is deceptively simple – to develop batteries from Pellion-technologies-labworkersmagnesium ion instead of the current lithium ion.  When I went to visit them, Dr. Robert Doe, one of the company’s founders told me that the company was largely virtual until it won a stimulus-funded grant from the Department of Energy for $3.3 million. The funds enabled Pellion to hire 21 employees and focus on its research and development. While Pellion’s magnesium batteries have many applications including cell phones and laptops, the company’s goal is to see these batteries power electric cars – and Poe’s credits the stimulus’s clean energy program with helping to get them there. “The ARRA funds let us go from two people and an idea to 25 and growing,” he said.

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