PROVIDENCE: GE, Virgin Pulse and Johnson and Johnson are all the latest tech catches for Rhode Island. State incentives are at play as well as a new tech complex to house technology companies. Former Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, is Rhode Island’s Commerce Secretary and the lead on the state’s tech incentives.
Virgin Pulse a health tech is owned by British Billionaire Richard Branson and is seeking $5.4 million to move its Framingham Mass., based company to Providence. VP says its project’s expected cost is $10.5 million. Virgin Pulse told the Providence Journal they expect to hire 300 employees within three years at an average pay of $73,000.
Johnson & Johnson the healthcare giant, which recently struck a deal with New Haven’s Achillion with a $225 million up front payment and a billion plus dollars potentially down the road, plans to open a “health technology center” with 75 jobs in 2017.
FARMINGTON: Recruiter.com, an online global recruiting service and job market technology platform, launched a travel service and loyalty program in partnership through a partnership with Monaker Group ( OTCQB : MKGI ), an “innovative technology-driven” travel company.
The new travel program and platform gives members access to discounted travel and vacation packages.
Recruiter.com says it “has a highly engaged membership base, working with hundreds of clients and employers, and managing a social media following of more than 2.8 million people.”
Adding, “the demographics of our members suggest they have high demand for both business and leisure travel. We saw the ability to be a first mover by delivering a specialized travel platform that offers value and convenience,” says Miles Jennings, CEO of Recruiter.com.
NEW YORK: The U.S. Postal Service is testing out a new high-tech service, “Informed Delivery,” in the New York City area that gives people a quick glance at their mail before it’s delivered. The pilot program sends customers an email each morning with scanned images of the mail that will be delivered to their home that day.
Your mail isn’t opened -- it’s left fully intact. You’re only going to see a photo of the outside of the envelope. But it gives you an idea what to expect when you get home and check your mailbox.
Informed Delivery first launched in the NYC and southern Connecticut area in December 2015 and is picking up steam. It’s expected to expand to other parts of New York, Long Island and New Jersey by summer 2017.
NEW HAVEN: ASSA ABLOY has launched Unlocked, a six-episode podcast series focused on the security issues for colleges and universities. The series is hosted by Brian Adoff, cofounder of the campus card data management company SwiftData Technology, based in Springfield Gardens, New York.
According to Swiftdata, Adoff talks with “experts, manufacturers and end users to help demystify the world of physical security.”
“Helping our customers navigate the numerous issues involved with campus security is a top priority for us,” says Jim Primovic, a campus national sales manager with, ASSA ABLOY.
DANBURY:- FuelCell Energy [Nasdaq: FCEL] is laying off 96 employees including layoffs at its headquarters in Danbury, and it manufacturing facility in Torrington.
FuelCell Energy designs, manufactures, operates and services fuel cell power plants.
Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, explained the move. “we are streamlining our business and cost structure as we reduce our production levels to meet the backlog we have today while positioning the company for long-term success.”
The company which was recently selected as one of the fastest growing companies in Connecticut by the Connecticut Technology Council and Marcum the accounting firm. FuelCell has experienced two important setbacks in the past year leading to the restructuring and the hopes of reducing operating costs by $6 million.
SOUTHINGTON: To many the next frontier in the green movement is food waste. Quantum Biopower in mid November opened Connecticut’s first “anaerobic digester” to turn food waste into energy.
Anaerobic digesting is not a new technology, far from it, Quantum’s own managing director Brian Paganini acknowledges it’s been around for several “hundred of years.” Simply put an organic compound – read food waste is placed in a sealed container without oxygenm add anaerobic bacteria, they do their work in the absence of oxygen and the little guys go to work breaking down the food waste and turning it into biogas [methane] which is then used to generate electricity.
After more than two year’s of promises and more the Connecticut DOT has finally installed GPS systems on New Haven buses. The vehicle tracking technology has been available for more than a decade.
The DOT responding to a passionate request for the technology and an update of bus routes [“it’s a civil right”] by New Haven’s mayor Toni Harp said they would provide the system by the end of 2015.
With the GPS installed, customers could track their bus location and time of arrival through mobile phone apps.
In December 2014, the DOT promised that by the end of 2015, all New Haven buses would have new technology, including GPS systems, that would let customers track, via apps (such as Google Transit)on their cell phones, the real-time locations of the buses they’re waiting for.
Nearly one year later the DOT says the system is installed and should be operational by the end of 2016.
HARTFORD: If you know what a Blockchain is, never mind understand how it works you’ll be a head of the game on this story.
Hartford Bitcoin/Blockchain tech startup Tierion has raised $1 million dollars from San Francisco-based Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group and China-based Fenbushi Capital.
Fenbushi itself raised $50 million in 2015 to invest in blockchain-based startups and projects.
Tieron first launched its service fourteen months ago allowing users to turn data from web and mobile apps into “blockchain receipts” which are cataloged on a “Bitcoin blockchain.”
Bitcoins are a digital currency, where transactions can be made without a credit card or central bank and a blockchain is a public ledger for managing the data. A user has a secret code to prove their ownership of the currency.
Founder Wayne Vaughan told Coindesk a Bitconin news website that Tieron is “attracting interest from institutional partners “seeking to leverage its free API service to ensure data integrity.”
While gathering new company customers and attracting interest from institution investors Tieron remains a small company with only four employees.
Vaughn has decided however, that Connecticut isn’t the place to grow his company. He told the Hartford Courant in early November that he is moving his company, and his family to San Francisco saying he couldn’t recruit here.
“There’s a lack of talent, people I’m interested in recruiting are not interested.”
NEW LONDON: Sheffield Pharmaceuticals a health and beauty products manufacturer has entered the Chinese market with its Dr. Sheffield’s brand toothpaste.
Ningbo Rswell Trading Company Limited of Zhejiang on mainland China will be distributing the product packaged for Chinese consumers. Sheffield executives said that Chinese consumers are “increasingly looking for high-quality personal care products” adding that a survey by “Research International confirms that “Chinese consumers want high-quality personal care toiletries, and many Chinese consumers are frustrated by counterfeit products.”
Sheffield Pharmaceuticals says it was the first company ever to produce toothpaste in a tube.
Ningbo sought out a USA-made toothpaste product to distribute in China.
According to Sheffield CEO Jeffrey Davis, the outreach dovetailed with the company’s strategy, “growing Sheffield’s export market is a key part of our growth.”
Sheffield was cited this fall by the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) and Marcum LLP, and as Tech Top 40 list of fastest growing technology companies in Connecticut.
Sheffield Pharmaceuticals produces more than 100 different formulas for the “over the counter market”, ranging from prescription and OTC health care products to cosmetics. The company says its products are in more than 70,000 stores globally.
Connecticut’s Pork Barrel Dollars In Danger
Pfizer will be instaling a 5.6 megawatt fuelcell made by FuelCell Energy of Danbury. Pfizer has agreed to a twenty year power purchase agreement.
Washington — Connecticut’s fuel cell industry, one of the most robust in the nation, is up against a powerful coalition that includes the Koch brothers and other conservative interest groups who want to end an important tax break for the industry.
The showdown over extending the federal fuel cell tax incentive will occur after the elections, in a lame-duck session of Congress. It will also affect similar provisions for wind power technologies and geothermal heat pumps.
“We have a commitment from the Republican leadership that the fuel cell tax credit will be permitted to go forward this year,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
But despite the promise from GOP leaders and support from Connecticut lawmakers, the future of the tax break that shores up a key industry in the state is cloudy.
Forty-five conservative and anti-spending groups led by the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity, wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan last week to end the tax breaks. The conservative coalition included Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, Citizens Against Government Waste and Americans for Tax Reform.
Koch Industries has a huge stake in the oil industry through, among others, the Koch Pipeline Company. It transports crude oil, natural gas and other products through 4,000 miles of pipelines.
“The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions currently under consideration — pertaining to wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities, and combined heat and power (CHP) properties— are a distortion of the tax laws for special interests in the renewable energy industry…” the groups’ letter said.
Adam Forni, a senior analyst at Navigant Research, said the end of the incentive would hurt the industry.
“The credit is worth around $0.02 per kilowatt over the project lifetime, a substantial amount that often decides whether the project is worth building,” Forni said. “Without the credit, fuel cell manufacturers face greater challenges in getting this industry off the ground.”
He also said Connecticut is among the top states, besides Massachusetts, New York and California, in the production of fuel cells.
Joel Rinebold, director of energy at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, called Connecticut “the Silicon Valley of fuel cells.”
He said the industry employs 3,000 people and generates $600 million a year in revenues.
“I can appreciate that there’s an interest in not spending money [on tax incentives], but we look at these tax credits as an investment,” he said. “Without some assistance, these companies may very well scatter.”
Energy 2013 Bport Fuel CellCongress extended similar tax credits for solar and wind at a cost of $23.8 billion over the next decade when it passed a huge omnibus spending package last December.
The goal was to end the expiration of certain tax breaks at the end of every year or every couple of years. These tax breaks were usually extended by Congress, but the process created uncertainty for businesses and utilities that want to use renewable power.
Several lower-profile energy tax provisions were excluded from last year’s deal, however, including investment tax credits for geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells and combined heat and power systems. Also left out was a proposal to extend renewable fuel infrastructure credits to benefit advanced forms of ethanol and other alternatives to gasoline.
The tax incentives for fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure expired at the end of last year, while the fuel cell investment tax credit for stationary fuel cells will end on Dec. 31.
An attempt to add those tax breaks to a Federal Aviation Administration bill failed this summer. But GOP leaders promised to take up those incentives later in the year.
Fuel cells take hydrogen – usually from natural gas – and combine it with oxygen from the air. The reaction creates electricity and the only emissions are water.
The biggest fuel cell company in Connecticut is Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, which was founded in the late 1960s.
Pfizer Laboratories will soon unveil a new 5.6 megawatt fuel cell power generation system, made by FuelCell Energy.
The technology will allow Pfizer to provide electricity and steam-powered heating to its 160-acre research and development facility in Groton.
There’s also a 14.9 megawatt fuel cell facility in Bridgeport, helping provide power to the city; and hopes for a large, stationary fueling center in Beacon Falls.
Doosan Fuel Cells, a Korean company, also has a presence in the state with a facility in South Windsor.
Rinebold says there are as many as 600 companies in the supply chain as well.
“It’s an alternative source of energy and it’s clean energy,” Blumenthal said. “Despite all the opposition from the special interests representing the fossil fuel industry, [fuel cells] are a clean alternative for our future.”
Americans for Prosperity and some of the groups that oppose the extension of the fuel cell tax break also opposed the extension of the solar and wind tax breaks. Their lobbying efforts failed.
Efforts to make the fuel cell tax break more permanent have also failed in this Congress.
Last year, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, introduced a bill that would extend the tax break through 2021. He says the incentive is needed to make it easier to develop and use fuel cell and hydrogen technology “and provide the certainty that such investments remain affordable and accessible for all.”
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Fairfield University, Sriharsha Srinivas Sundarram is the recipient of a grant from The Earl E. and Hildagunda A. Brinkman Private Charitable Foundation. This grant will allow Sundarram to continue his innovative work with his fellow Fairfield students.
Sundarram’s current research involves the attempt at creation of an artificial human tissue that would be sufficiently analogous to human flesh, making it useful for pharmaceutical testing.
The School of Engineering at the university has been supported by The Brinkman Foundation many times in the past. In August 2016, the foundation donated $78,000— $70,000 to support the School of Engineering and $8,000 for Shannon Harding, a PhD candidate in the College of Arts and Sciences for her research.
Sundarram’s continuous incorporation of students into his work, pioneering research and his efforts to foster relationships with different regional manufacturers were the many reasons for the $18,000 research grant.
In his research involving students, Sundarram also works with undergraduate and graduate students to focus on making nickel foams to create tiny and efficient batteries in addition to his work on the artificial human tissue.