Alumni Venture Targets Energy
In August 2012, Joel Douglas, founder of Mystic Technology Partners and several other firms, and Michael Curtis, who created Simplified Energy Solutions (SES), decided to join forces by merging their companies to grow and strengthen SES. The company is now building expertise and momentum for bringing alternate energy technologies to the market. Read a recent news story here.
The two alumni, Douglas (B.S. 1977; Civil Engineering) and Curtis (M.S., Ph.D. Environmental Engineering, ’80, ’87) have collaborated for nearly five years on several projects and businesses. While managing their separate businesses, the two came to the realization that there were significant, complementary intersects between their two businesses and a merger simply made sense from a business and personal standpoint. The new business capitalizes on the talents, resources and expertise of both men.
According to Curtis, SES targets technologies that are either developing but not yet ‘mature,’ or that have yet to enter the commercial market. The founders’ commercial experience and nose for what works in the market allow SES to pinpoint exciting near-market technologies that have great potential for growth in the near term. Among the alternate energy products in the company’s portfolio are hydrokinetic turbines for the wastewater field, solar thermal hot water, dehumidifiers and heating systems for numerous types of facilities and high power-density battery systems for households and small commercial entities.
SES is also actively pursuing new product invention and development in alternate fuels, small volume thermal storage, and other fields. As concepts mature, new companies will be created to operate as independent entities working with SES, but outside of the corporate umbrella. New products and new startups will be created over the coming months and years.
The first sprout to emerge from SES is Engineered Carbon Solutions (ECS), which was created in August 2012 and is aggressively pursuing institutional and private equity funding to construct a small manufacturing facility in southeastern Connecticut for its alternate fuel product composed of greater than 50% recycled carbon.
The partnership suits both men well. Douglas, a 2005 inductee into UConn’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers, holds 90 patents in numerous technologies and has been a ‘serial inventor and entrepreneur’ for much of his career. A 2011 inductee to the Academy, Curtis brings skills as an ‘intrapreneur’ creating innovative and successful service offerings in consulting environmental and engineering organizations.
Curtis notes, “Product development and invention are new to me. This is the most intriguing undertaking I have ever been involved with. It is so much a part of Joel’s past and present that I feel very much like an entry-level employee at times.”
Douglas remarks, “Really, I’ve been set free to re-immerse myself in the lab, simply do the engineering and free myself of many of the day-to-day administrative responsibilities of running the business.”
SES is building a strong foundation now that includes existing or emerging relationships with Siemens, Asahi Kasei America and Murata. Curtis notes that numerous groups have expressed interest in funding new developments or being the ‘alpha sites’ for the first field applications of certain technologies. “We would welcome longer term commitments from interested businesses who could see us as part of their product development mix.”