SBA Awards LaunchTN Grant to Support Small Business Innovation and R&D Commercialization

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently granted 24 awards up to $125,000 in the Fiscal Year 2019 through its Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network partner, Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), was named the grant recipient for Tennessee.

The program’s goal is to improve outcomes for underrepresented entrepreneurs in its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. FAST also aims to increase participation for rural-based, women-owned and economically disadvantaged firms.

In addition to receiving one-year of funding beginning September 30, the FAST program offers mentorship, technical assistance, specialized training and outreach opportunities for R&D focused small businesses. Organizations use the funding to help enact state and regional programs that support SBIR applicants and awardees.

“FAST partners support an important role in attempting to fill various gaps that R&D-focused small businesses may have to help them win SBIR/STTR awards,” said Acting Administrator Christopher Pilkerton in a prepared statement. “They focus on the needs of next-generation high-tech firms and support them through the entire cycle from ideation to commercialization. SBIR funding is one way to do that. Additionally, a number of these awards are going to partners that are located in Opportunity Zones where job creation and investments are moving forward to revitalize communities.”

To learn more about FAST, follow this link.

Stone Mountain Technologies’ whirlwind year: from kicking off series A funding, exploring European expansion, to preparing for production and commercial launch

The Energy Mentor Network’s second graduate, Stone Mountain Technologies (SMTI), has been busy since its December 2018 graduation. Headquartered in Johnson City, SMTI is a leading developer of cost-effective, next-generation heating technologies that lead to lower energy costs, higher comfort and lower CO2 emissions. 

In the past few months, SMTI has closed its seed-round with nearly $3 million from two strategic investors, kicked off its Series A Round, launched several prototypes and sought market expansion to Europe. Later this month, the company will release details for a new grant that will demonstrate an exciting new feature for the base gas heat pump product.   

“It will provide heating, cooling, and water heating for homes at the lowest carbon footprint that we believe anybody has ever done. It is a huge deal for us to be able to demonstrate that technology over the next year or so,” remarked SMTI President Michael Garrabrant. “The buzz in the industry and the market is the highest it’s ever been and continues to grow as everybody sees that we are getting close to production and commercial launch.”

With product development, SMTI is starting to “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.” Garrabrant spoke about implementing field test units in Los Angeles on two full-service restaurants, another in Chicago for a multi-unit apartment building, two in Wisconsin for residential spaces and in Montreal for testing at National Resources Canada.

“We may be building 200 more prototypes over the next twelve months, which will finish out product development and get us ready to launch commercial products,” outlined Garrabrant.

“Our focus is on one thing: getting into production and transitioning to a manufacturing company from a product development company,” he continued. “Once we launch, we’ll start out with 50 to 100 employees. But if we hit our targets over the next 10 years, there could be as many as 1,000 or 1,500 employees.”

SMTI is also interested in introducing its technology to the European market. After introducing its technology and company to major European heating and equipment manufacturers at a “dog and pony show” in Paris, SMTI continued the conversations at ISH, the world’s leading trade fair focusing on the responsible management of water and energy in buildings, in Frankfurt, Germany, this past March.

“We’ve got a lot of things going in North America, but we’re trying to get our foot in the door in Europe,” explained Garrabrant. “It’s been pretty successful so far since we graduated.” 

While enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network program, SMTI closed a multi-million dollar investment with a strategic investor and was awarded a $2.7 million U.S. Department of Energy grant in August 2017 to accelerate, with an OEM partner, the commercialization of its residential furnace replacement. SMTI was recently awarded a smaller follow-on grant from the DOE, which kicked off in July.

To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network and its mission to foster advanced energy technologies and startups throughout the state, visit this page.

Solar Site Design founder announces launch of next-generation distributed energy resource platform, new Chattanooga solar project

The Energy Mentor Network’s first graduate, Solar Site Design, announced the launch of a next-generation platform called Loyal.Energy in Q2 of 2019. Headquartered in Nashville, Solar Site Design is a collaborative, cloud-based marketplace platform that connects sales-ready commercial and industrial solar projects to solar construction companies.

Leveraging the same core technology and processes, Loyal.Energy broadens the commercial marketplace from a solar-only approach to include all distributed energy resource technologies, such as building performance, LED lighting and retrofit, HVAC, roofing, retail electric procurement and utility cost recovery.

“We’re proud of the early success of Loyal.Energy as we expand our origination platform offering to work with all Energy Service Providers,’” said Jason Loyet, founder of Solar Site Design and Loyal.Energy. “Loyal.Energy allows our champion originators to offer money saving solutions for the entire energy footprint for all commercial and industrial facilities across the Nation. We really believe that this is where the future of the energy space is headed.”

After spending nearly 15 years in the solar energy space, Loyet spoke with a growing number of commercial and industrial facilities who wanted to take a more “holistic” approach to energy improvements for their properties.

While Loyet is still working with some of the top solar installers in the country through Solar Site Design, he said these organizations are also able to also leverage the Loyal.Energy platform to connect with clients who are looking for additional energy services.

“The Loyal.Energy platform creates the opportunity for our originators to win lifetime energy contracts,” Loyet elaborated. “It also allows for business owners to be able to connect to more energy technologies that are going to save them money.”

With the launch of Loyal.Energy, Loyet was clear that the SunShot award winning Solar Site Design is here to stay. The company remains committed to expanding the solar energy sector and has many exciting new project developments on the horizon.

“Solar Site Design is part of the largest rooftop solar project in the state of Tennessee being built this year on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s headquarters,” Loyet said. “We teamed with Lawson Electric on the 1.1MW solar project in Chattanooga that is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019. We continue to team with leading energy contractors across the nation to help drive down the cost of energy projects through our innovative Marketplace platforms.”

While enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network program, Solar Site Design received strategic business, marketing, and financial guidance by completing a series of panels and discussions with its mentors. To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network and its mission to foster advanced energy technologies and startups throughout the state, visit this page.

Energy Service Providers can learn more about the Loyal.Energy platform by following this link.

SoCalGas joins the California Energy Commission in the demonstration of a new ultra-efficient water heater, space cooler developed by SMTI

Restaurants use a lot of energy to not only prepare and cook food, but to cool kitchens, dining rooms, and other spaces. A new high efficiency, ultra-low emissions commercial water heating and space cooling unit, which begins field demonstrations at two Southern California restaurants this week, could dish out energy savings, lower operating costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for foodservice and hospitality facility operators.

The new technology uses a thermally driven heat pump fueled by natural gas or propane to capture ambient energy, achieving a heating efficiency of 140 percent or greater. It is projected to reduce energy use by 30 to 50 percent compared to standard natural gas water heaters. The highly-efficient heat pump also provides space cooling simultaneously, which reduces the need for air conditioning and can help lessen electricity use.

Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc. (SMTI) developed the new heat pump by redesigning heat pump technology traditionally used for cooling and focusing it on heating with cost-effectiveness and scalability in mind. GTI is leading the demonstration, and AO Smith Corporation is also providing support. Project funding was awarded by the California Energy Commission and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) research and development funds authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Click here for more information.

TAEBC attends, sponsors 2nd annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Week on the Hill

TAEBC attended and sponsored Launch Tennessee’s 2nd Annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Week on the Hill in Nashville Feb. 19 to 20. This gathering was hosted by Launch Tennessee and several organizations across the state as an opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to speak with legislators and promote innovation in the statewide economy.

Policy makers, legislators, and key stakeholders kicked off Week on the Hill celebrations of entrepreneurship and innovation at a reception the evening of Feb. 19. The next morning, TAEBC and other sponsor organizations spoke to attendees before launching into a day of meetings.

Vice President of TAEBC Cortney Piper and CEO of Stone Mountain Technologies (SMTI) Michael Garrabrant attended and spoke with state legislators and policymakers about TAEBC’s mission and the benefits of advanced energy entrepreneurship and innovation for Tennessee’s economy.

In these meetings, they discussed TAEBC’s 2018 Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report to provide further context for decision makers regarding the state’s advanced energy sector. Michael also emphasized the importance of the Energy Mentor Network as its second graduate and SMTI’s cost-effective, advanced heating technologies, along with his commitment to grow his manufacturing company in Northeast Tennessee. SMTI’s products seek to lower energy costs, improve comfort, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Throughout the day, they met with representatives Lt. Governor Randy McNally, Rep. John Holsclaw, Sen. Rusty Crowe, Rep. Rick Staples, Rep. John Ragan, and Sen. Becky Duncan Massey. They also met with Allen Borden, the deputy commissioner of business, community and rural development, and Tony Niknejad, the policy director for Governor Bill Lee.