Most Innovative New Product Awards: Cleantech Finalists

Contributor: Raffaella Giampaolo, Marketing Manager at CONNECT

Cleantech:

Cleantech is an important, rapidly growing sector of the San Diego innovation economy, so of course we’re spotlighting some of Cleantech’s best and brightest in the Most Innovative New Product awards. “Cleantech” is loosely defined as a product or service that improves performance, productivity, or efficiency while providing sustainability benefits. This industry sector casts a wide net and encompasses areas like clean energy (solar, wind), water purification, and biofuels.

Spurred by a city initiative in 2007 to promote the expansion, attraction, and retention of businesses that develop products and technologies that provide environmentally sustainable solutions, it is now estimated that the industry contributes $2.25 billion in direct, indirect, and induced economic impact to the local economy in San Diego.

Now, let us introduce to you the Cleantech, Sustainability, and Energy finalists! 

Camston Wrather LLC:

Camston recovers precious metals & polymers from e-waste using green technology. We had CEO, Mark Evans, answer a few questions about Camston Wrather here: 

CONNECT: What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Evans: As a science and engineering company our biggest achievement to date has been in the rolling up of our innovation in green chemistry along side our achievements in the applied and mechanical engineering disciplines to full commercial scale. It's one thing to achieve proof-of-concept, but it is an entirely different set of engineering and business logistics to define, stress-test and launch an applied science company at a commercial scale and achieve independent validation. At Camston, transforming end-of-life electronic bits into tomorrow's atoms doesn't happen in a vacuum, but through the hard work and dedication of our scientists, engineers, chemists and most importantly seed investors - a total team effort.

CONNECT: What’s the biggest obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome?

Evans: To date, I think Camston's biggest hurdle has been in overcoming the complex challenge in identifying the degradation pathways and the chemical reaction kinetics of our main reagent. The main obstacle for Camston was realizing that static, and even balanced, chemical equations on paper never quite materialize the way you expect in an applied real world setting. Now that might seem obvious to fellow scientists, but the trick really lies in building a world-class chemical engineering department, with limited capital, that can see past the challenges and get the innovation over the goal line. Camston choose to overcome its limited capital resources to attract and retain world-class chemical engineers by utilizing online tutoring sites. San Diego is home to some of the world's best analytical chemists, professors and engineers, many of whom, advertise their services, research knowledge and clinical trial experience on tutoring sites. Camston's founding engineers, Mark Evans and Aaron Kamenash, identified specific buckets of missing knowledge, chemical analytics and technical assessment, and then "hired" the appropriate expert from readily available tutoring sites to fill in and help complete those empty buckets of knowledge. For Camston, it simply innovated around the challenge of having limited capital by leveraging the available skill set of professors, Ph.d's, and graduate students willing to share their passion in the hard sciences towards our goal of creating a more circular economy.  

CONNECT: What does being a finalist in the Most Innovative New Product Awards mean to you?

Evans: Camston is not unlike many of the other entrepreneurs and companies who dream of building a better world. A world in which their own innovations disrupt and become a catalyst for change. In taking the road less traveled, what is often left out, is that the journey from idea to ideal is profoundly and uniquely internalized. The many long days, nights and years of knowing that you're not innovating if you're not failing, coupled with the internalized drive to get past those challenges, comes at a real personal cost. For some, indeed many, that entrepreneurial road runs out. But for those that can push through and truly innovate, the repayment on that cost of dedication starts to become noticed and recognized by family, peers and the community at large. Being recognized as a finalist in the Most Innovative New Product Awards validates our drive as innovators, and in a very real way, repays certain of the costs lost from journeying from idea to ideal. In short, it's a pretty amazing feeling, and one that is equally shared amongst our team members. Thank you!      

Measurabl: 

Good sustainability management includes a strong reporting program. Measurabl makes the process of collecting data and issuing reports easy, so you can spend your time improving operations instead manually crunching numbers and corralling responses. We had Kelia Cowan, Measurabl's VP of Marketing, answer a few questions here: 

CONNECT: What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Cowan: Creating transparency around environmental and social data. Utilizing proprietary software, we’ve opened up the ability to analyze and act upon high-quality non-financial data. Measurabl makes it possible for any company – no matter the size or industry – to quickly and accurately measure, manage, and report on sustainability.

CONNECT: What’s the biggest obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome?

Cowan: With tons of information coming from a variety of sources, we’ve developed new ways to evaluate the volume and accuracy of our data. Recently, we incorporated machine learning into our software. We use data science to spot trends hidden in the data, verify data quality, and identify ways to reduce our customer's environmental footprint.

CONNECT: What does being a finalist in the Most Innovative New Product Awards mean to you?

Cowan: Our product has steady achieved market adoption, making sustainability data and management accessible to any company. Being a finalist for MIP brings our success story home; we’re making differences to both our clients and the community at large. We plan to continue making our community better, healthier, and more sustainable.

SDG&E: Renewable Meter Adapter

Before installing rooftop solar panels, many residential customers will be required to make expensive upgrades to their electrical service panel. These upgrades usually introduce delays and additional permitting requirements. SDG&E has created an alternative to installing these upgrades called the Renewable Meter Adapter (RMA). We had Sr. Manager, Amber Albrecht, answer a few questions about the Renewable Meter Adapter here: 

CONNECT: What’s your biggest achievement to date?

The Renewable Meter Adapter has helped to make solar faster, safer and more affordable for thousands of SDG&E’s private solar customers. Our greatest achievement to date is the fact that our customers have collectively saved more than $5 million on the costs to go solar since the Renewable Meter Adapter was first introduced in August of 2015.

CONNECT: What’s the biggest obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome?

The Renewable Meter Adapter was invented to overcome a growing obstacle in the pathway to private solar – electrical panel upgrades. Typically, homes built before 1995—or nearly three quarters of American homes—require electric panel upgrades before connecting private solar. These upgrades, which can cost up to $10,000, often include construction to walls, stucco and landscaping, introducing additional delays and permitting requirements.

SDG&E invented the Renewable Meter Adapter as an alternative to the cumbersome process. The Renewable Meter Adapter device can be purchased from SDG&E for $1,326, and installed  within 30 minutes, completing work that would have previously taken days and required additional electrical inspections and additional trips to the home by SDG&E.

CONNECT: What does being a finalist in the Most Innovative New Product Awards mean to you?

We set out to make it easier for our customers to install private solar through the invention of the Renewable Meter Adapter and this award along with the millions of dollars is customer savings is a signal that we’ve achieved our goal to invent a device that eliminates a roadblock and ultimately makes the solar process safer, faster and more affordable. 

For more information on the 2016 Most Innovative New Product Awards click here. 

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