The MAREC Minute: February 2013

The MAREC Minute, a newsletter from GVSU's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.

February 2013  Issue, Vol. 5, No. 1                                                                                                             Past Newsletters

   C O N T E N T S

A Message from the Director

As I reflect on the efforts of staff and various project partners over the past few months, “diversity of effort” is a description that comes to mind. Activities ranging from welcoming Corlnet, LLC  and Penters, LLC as new business incubator tenants, hosting the roll-out of the Muskegon Angels, launching a new solar study project and preparing for the 2013 offshore wind energy research season leaves little doubt that we are in full operational mode on a number of fronts.

Certainly a highlight of the last three months has been the completion of the 2012 offshore wind research season. With the successful retrieval of the research buoy, we brought onshore a treasure trove of never before gathered wind data collected at hub-height over a seven month mid-lake research season. Through our collective efforts we will be able to provide researchers with data that will reveal important new insight about Lake Michigan wind characteristics. Bringing the buoy’s computer data cards onshore felt like bringing tiny gold bullion bars from a place never accessible before.   

Diver enters water from tug to inspect wind research buoy.

A diver descends into Lake Michigan to secure the WindSentinel’s anchor chain in preparation for towing the research buoy to port.

Preparations are now underway for the 2013 offshore research season. We will be selecting a closer to shore, perhaps ten miles out, deployment location. We hope to conduct the 2013 research season with new partners who will add significant value to the project. 

Business and technology development will also be a priority focus for the New Year. Last year, five West Michigan companies received $132,991 in MAREC Business Accelerator Fund services support which leveraged $785,875 in private equity investment. With a new round of BAF funding in place, we will continue to assist companies who are ready to launch new products or move technology innovation towards commercialization. It promises to be another exciting year !  

Arn Boezaart, Director
boezaara@gvsu.edu


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MAREC Welcomes New Incubator Tenants

 

Hank Betten, founder of Corlnet LLC.

Hank Betten, founder of Corlnet.

   

Two start-up companies recently joined MAREC’s incubator program to take advantage of its business development services for promising early-stage companies.  

Based in Muskegon with an office in Grand Rapids, Corlnet, LLC is a nearly two-year-old company that offers proprietary software products, managed services, and custom software development to clients across the U.S. in locations such as West Michigan, California, Texas and Florida.

The company has public and private sector clients in industries such as education, health care, insurance, aerospace, transportation, and manufacturing, including furniture makers. Founder Hank Betten, a 28-year-old Muskegon native, moved into MAREC on November 1. His goal is to establish a team of six full-time employees at MAREC.

Penters, LLC joined MAREC in January 2013. It operates as a management and investment firm focused on energy development and related technology with emphasis on sustainable business practices. Penters will develop and manage energy related projects and link related capital investment in both the US and Europe.

The company’s principal is Roel Klein, an engineer and energy entrepreneur with more than 20 years of leadership and consulting experience in European energy and industrial sectors.  

Penters hopes to link European investment capital with commercial scale energy projects in Michigan and elsewhere in North America with particular emphasis on wind, solar and hydropower.

Learn more about MAREC's Business Incubation Program

 

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Gov. Snyder Shares Energy Vision in Webcast at MAREC and Across State

 

Nearly 60 people from West Michigan filled MAREC’s seminar room on November 28 to hear a live webcast of Gov. Rick Snyder's vision for the state on energy and the environment.

People from West Michigan businesses and organizations, including the Sierra Club, Muskegon Chamber of Commerce and Grand Valley State University, listened to Snyder’s messages on the importance of preserving Michigan’s natural resources, such as the Great Lakes, and also focusing on alternative energy and how the state can leverage it.

“Now it’s time for us to step up on important issues like energy and the environment,” Snyder said “Today we’re starting a dialogue that will result in action.”  MAREC was one of two live locations selected by the Governor for the webcast. 

More on Gov. Snyder’s message is at gvsu.edu/marec/snyder/ .

 

 

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Gov. Snyder in webcast at GVSU MAREC.

 


GVSU Computing Senior Project Assists MAREC Clients

GVSU capstone team poses with MAREC clients and staff.

Capstone students with GVSU staff, faculty and clients.

From left: Joe Graczyk (MAREC), Andrew Sharrah, Steve Dinka, James Derck, Jason Jesperson (Logical Lighting), Andrew Hinson, David K. Lange (School of Computing and Information Systems), and Chad Lawie (LongerDays).

 

Two MAREC incubator tenants recently received valuable consulting support from senior students in GVSU’s School of Computing and Information Systems.  In turn, the students gained unique practical hands-on experience serving start-up businesses as clients and solving genuine business needs.

Incubator tenant LongerDays.com expressed interest in finding assistance with some of its information technology (IT) needs as a “virtual assistance” company.  LongerDays.com provides a range of outsourcing services including web design, copy writing as well as a variety of administrative supports to clients in the U.S. and internationally.

Joe Graczyk, incubator manager at MAREC, connected LongerDays.com with Prof. David K. Lange, instructor and advisor to the senior capstone courses in GVSU’s School of Computing and Information Systems.

Lange and the Information Systems capstone class seek out projects from non-profits, such as the MAREC Incubator, in which Information Systems majors work in small teams (4-5 students) to gain experience working with clients and delivering final products.

Apps for LongerDays.com

The students chose to focus on redesign of the iPhone and Android apps for  LongerDays.com, a critical need for this internet based company.

“We were happy to provide the students with practical learning experiences outside of the classroom. I was impressed by their ambition and very satisfied with their results,” said Chad Lawie, founder of LongerDays.com.

Logical Lighting Systems (LLS) was the second start-up company at MAREC involved with the capstone program.  The company provides low-energy CFC lighting and energy monitoring systems for commercial facilities. LLS wanted a system that provided public and private Wi-Fi Internet access for its customers.

Solutions for Logical Lighting

“They provided a high quality IT performance solution I could deploy in my business and it has saved me hours of work,” said Jason Jesperson, owner of Logical Lighting Systems.

“The work was done concisely and professionally. Without knowing, you would not even realize that students did the work,” he added.

“Our capstone partnership is a win-win program for our students and for non-profit clients like MAREC’s incubation program,” said David K. Lange. “The students were able to help MAREC to support the growth of their start-up clients, and the team was able to see the fruits of their labors applied to analyze and solve business problems.”   

“This sort of support can be critical for young companies. We expect to collaborate with Grand Valley’s computing and engineering capstone classes in the future,” said Graczyk.

For more about working with the MAREC Incubator Program and connecting with GVSU resources, contact Joe Graczyk, MAREC incubator manager, at graczykj@gvsu.edu or (616) 331-6914.

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MAREC Partners with New Muskegon Angels Investment Group

Muskegon Angels principals Larry Hines and Mike Olthoff with Eric Seifert of MISBTDC.

From left, Larry Hines, Mike Olthoff and Eric Seifert at the news conference announcing the Muskegon Angels.

Muskegon Angels logo.

MAREC was host to a news conference on February 8 announcing a new Muskegon investment group formed to advance the development of business start-ups and mature companies in the Lakeshore area.

The idea of an Angel group in Muskegon began in 2012 when individuals in the business community decided Muskegon needed its own Angel investment group rather than relying on investment groups elsewhere. More than 20 initial investors are participating, with some members located beyond Muskegon County. Participants agree to invest $125,000 over five years; when fully capitalized, the organization’s assets will total more than $2.75 million.

Mike Olthoff of Nichols and Larry Hines of Hines Corporation spearheaded the effort, with leadership assistance from John Pridnia of Rehmann, Paul Jackson of Warner Norcross & Judd and Eric Seifert of Grand Valley State University.

The Muskegon Angels will focus on local growth, investment and assistance, specifically in the areas of advanced manufacturing, food processing, technology, and water-related innovations and businesses. The organization will also mentor the entrepreneurs they support.

The initiative will receive administrative support from, and will be based at MAREC. Technical assistance will be provided by Kevin McCurren, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at GVSU, with coordination provided by the MAREC based Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center staff.

Muskegon region entrepreneurs interested in presenting a proposal to the Muskegon Angels should contact Eric Seifert at (616) 331-6906 or seiferer@gvsu.edu.

Visit the Muskegon Angels website.

 

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WindSentinel Buoy Completes Research Season
 

Andrie Specialized tug Meredith Ashton retrieves GVSU WindSentinel, Dec. 2012.

Taking advantage of mild December weather, the Meredith Ashton prepares to tow the GVSU WindSentinel buoy to shore for winter retrofit.

On December 18, a hearty group led by a crew from Andrie Specialized boarded a tug in Muskegon and successfully retrieved the GVSU WindSentinel research buoy from its 2012 research location, 35 miles offshore from the Michigan coastline.

The retrieval concluded a successful seven month deployment at the Mid-Lake plateau, a relatively shallow region, directly west and east of Muskegon and Milwaukee. The plateau has long been of interest to scientists and those interested in exploring the potential for the development of wind energy generation in the Great Lakes.

Using the sophisticated laser pulse wind measurement technology and other instrumentation onboard the WindSentinel, a vast amount of never before recorded data was gathered that will allow scientists to better understand the wind characteristics and related atmospheric conditions over Lake Michigan. Related aquatic, avian and water quality data was also captured for future analysis. 

Review and analysis of the data is now underway by scientists at the GVSU School of Engineering. The data is also being analyzed by scientists at Michigan Tech, the MSU – Michigan Natural Features Inventory program and at federal agencies interested in the project. Data is also being shared with scholars at other universities engaged in wind studies.

Learn more about the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Research Assessment Project

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Michigan Energy Office Funds Solar Thermal Assessment Project

Michigan Energy Office logo. A new grant from the Michigan Energy Office (MEO) will enable MAREC to collect and study data to assess solar thermal system costs and efficiency improvements for using solar thermal in Michigan’s climate.  

Thanks to an earlier federal SERC grant to the Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership (MOCAP), some 200 new solar thermal system installations for residences are now in operation across Muskegon, Oceana, Oakland, Livingston, and Pontiac Counties.  With the MEO funds, Kim Walton, program director at MAREC, will collect the data from the homes that received renewable energy systems under the SERC grant. Data will also be collected from a photovoltaic (PV) panel test bed being constructed at MAREC in February, 2013. The $44,000 grant includes $22,000 from the State of Michigan, with equal matching funds from GVSU.   

Data from the residential systems and the solar test bed will be collected for a one-year period for analysis. The residential data will include site information, technology used, mounting factors, and any other site considerations, in addition to costs for materials, labor, fees and permits.  

The test bed at MAREC will consist of PV panels with micro inverters configured to provide specific output data for solar panel angles and the interaction of snow cover on the panels’ output. Two identical test beds will be installed, with panels set at specific angles. One set of solar panels will be kept free of snow cover daily and another set will be allowed to accumulate or shed snow naturally. Results from each set will be recorded. The PV test bed will be installed next to MAREC’s new Solar Center.

For more information, contact MAREC Program Director Kim Walton, waltonk@gvsu.edu or 616.331-6907.

 

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New MAREC Solar Center Expands Education and Demonstration

MAREC's new Solar Center for education and demonstration. The new Solar Center at MAREC will expand education and demonstration space for classes, training and other activities. The building, adjacent to MAREC, is designed to demonstrate and house the solar equipment used for research and training.

A solar panel test bed will be placed nearby as part of the MEO grant (see story above). In the future, both solar thermal hot air and solar thermal hot water systems will be installed on the Solar Center.  



For more information, contact MAREC Program Director Kim Walton, waltonk@gvsu.edu or 616.331-6907.

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Accelerator Funds Remain Available to Assist Business

MISBTEDC logo.A new round of funding from the State of Michigan has made grant dollars available to entrepreneurs in high-technology industries through the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF).  The BAF program’s goal is to help growing, high-tech Michigan companies obtain accelerator services to leverage business development and job growth.

Last year, MAREC assisted five companies with securing BAF awards totaling $132,991. This year MAREC staff will once again identify and assist qualified Michigan companies in priority sectors with development of business accelerator awards up to $50,000.  

The program prioritizes companies that  have high potential for return on investment and job growth. Preference is given to high-technology firms including renewable energy, life sciences, homeland security, defense, advanced manufacturing, composites, material science, and similar sectors.

Companies must also meet size requirements; they will have raised less than $1 million in private investments and have annual revenues less than $2.5 million. In addition, they must also be Michigan-based. Priority goes to firms with greater job creation potential.  

Grants will support services such as business plan assistance, legal advice on intellectual property and patents, marketing and business development strategies, assistance in locating financing, management coaching, and entrepreneurial education programs.
MAREC Business Accelerator Fund - contact us button.

For BAF inquiries, contact:
 
Arnold (Arn) Boezaart, MAREC
616-331-6901  |  boezaara@gvsu.edu
 
Jim Edmonson, BAF Project Manager 
231-557-8543  |  jbedmonson@aol.com

 
For more information, please visit
www.gvsu.edu/marec/BAF/

 


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BAF Grantee:  Dirt Works, LLC

John Miller, principal of Dirt Works LLC and a BAF grantee.

Dirt Works, LLC has developed an intuitive and inexpensive  visual reference product named Johnny Ball™ for the earth moving  industry.

The product is expected to compete with more costly laser and GPS instruments that help machine operators determine the level and grade of the terrain they are working.

BAF funds assisted with development of prototypes and production molds so the company can begin to fulfill customer orders. Dirt Works, LLC was founded by John Miller (at left), a professional excavator and West Michigan entrepreneur.


Learn more about MAREC assistance for Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) grants

 

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Page last modified November 11, 2014