February 15, 2017
An Belfast-based company working on utilizing our country’s existing hydroelectric facilities, won an award on Thursday evening at the national Cleantech Open contest in San Francisco. Surge Hydro received the national award for the “Business Model with the Best Chance for Immediate Investment and Commercialization,” according to Jeff Marks, executive director of Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine.
Surge Hydro, which earned a trip to the national competition last October when it won the regional Cleantech Open in Boston, is attempting to use technology to leverage the country’s underutilized hydroelectric infrastructure. More than 90 percent of existing dams in the United States, roughly 80,000 or so dams, don’t produce electricity, according to Surge Hydro’s founders, David Markley and Nicholas Cabral. The pair, both Maine Maritime Academy graduates, want to change that by utilizing local smart grid networks so communities can harness low-cost hydropower.
The Cleantech Open is a hybrid between a startup accelerator and business pitch competition. It claims to be the world’s largest accelerator for startups working in the areas of environmental science and clean energy. During the six-month program, startups receive extensive mentoring, training, and access to investors and capital. Since 2005, more than 1,000 startups have participated in its annual accelerator and mentorship program in the United States. These businesses have raised a total of more than $1.2 billion.
“These eager entrepreneurs started with bright ideas and built strong relationships and business strategies to support their growth into world-class companies. Today, they are leading the way in the cleantech sector, generating green jobs and contributing to a surge of positive environmental impact,” reads the website.
Surge Hydro was the third Maine company in the past five years to win the northeast regional competition and earn a trip to the national competition. Pika Energy in Gorham won in 2012 and Portland-based Rapport won in 2015. So far, no Maine company has won the national competition.
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