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.
ROCKY HILL: Connecticut Innovations (CI) announced the winners of VentureClash, a $5 million global investment challenge for early-stage digital health and financial technology (fintech) companies.
There were eleven finalists from eight countries, and six companies were awarded with investments, mentoring, customer introductions, grants and services to help them grow and succeed. To receive any aid, the winners are required to establish a presence in Connecticut.
Dream Payments, a Canada-based fintech, won the highest investment award, $1.5 million.
Dream payments partners with financial institutions to “empower” payment solutions. Brent Ho-Young is the CEO of Dream Payments.
UK company Hubbub will receive a $1 million investment. Hubbub provides digital fundraising solutions for the education and nonprofit sectors. Jonathan May is the CEO of Hubbub.
Four companies received a $500,000 investment award. They included:
AMP Credit Technologies, a Hong Kong–based fintech company helps provide small businesses with financing across global markets. BondIT, an Israel-based company provides “data-driven, personalized, optimal investment recommendations” to client companies. Belgium based LindaCare is a “digital health company” offering software solutions for healthcare providers to facilitate patient remote monitoring.
Streamdata.io, a France-based company develops software and infrastructures that “help developers turn content into streams that easily integrate into front-end and back-end systems.”
Matt McCooe, CEO of Connecticut Innovations said, “this competition showcased an incredible display of talent from companies around the world.” McCooe explained that there was more to do to have the “winners” locate in Connecticut.
“We have now completed the first step in the process with the awards. The next and more vital piece of this challenge will be getting the deals completed, and setting up a soft landing for the companies in the challenge who decide to open operations in Connecticut.”
A panel of judges at the Yale School of Management included subject matter and investor experts from athenahealth, Canaan Partners, Oak HC/FT, Kepha Partners, Magellan Health, and Point72 Ventures.
The top two investment awards also receive up to $100,000 each in grants for assistance with relocation and other expenses, and each runner-up investment award includes a $50,000 grant. All six winners will also receive $120,000 worth of IBM Cloud Credits, sponsored by IBM. For information www.ventureclash.com.
Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative officials are on the grid for a trip to the Kentucky Derby for employees at a cost of more than $340,000. Officials in Bozrah and the city of Groton have been demanding information about the annual trip and expense. The corporate “retreat” hosted forty four employees and guests.
Coop management said the costs for the trip are paid from revenues generated by services to the Mohegan tribe, management of hydro systems for Hartford Metropolitan District Commission, and some towns in Massachusetts. The cooperative is owned by six municipally owned utilities including Groton, Norwich and Jewett City.
STORRS: The University of Connecticut, working with the United States Economic Development Administration and Connecticut Innovations is creating a center to “share computer modeling facilities and related expertise with small and medium-sized Connecticut manufacturers, to help these companies create products faster and more efficiently.”
The Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center [CMSC], will be funded with a $2.1 million combined investment over five years. The center is being designed to serve small and medium-sized companies with access to resources for computational design, modeling, and simulation, as well as high-performance computing hardware. The center hopes to use computer models to test and modify new product designs and manufacturing processes “virtually” before making a physical prototype, with the goal of lowering the design and manufacturing costs.
Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the UConn School of Engineering, said “the Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center will allow UConn to share our advanced modeling capabilities with industry throughout the state.”
CMSC will work on a “subscription” model providing access to modeling technology for a “fraction of the cost of installing a similar high-performance computing system.” The CMSC will be housed within UConn’s new Tech Park, with the first building scheduled for completion next year.
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA: Connecticut Business Systems (CBS), a Xerox company headquartered in Wethersfield, opened a new facility, its tenth in Connecticut and Massachusetts, that it calls a state-of-the-art technology center in West Springfield.
The facility has an on-site demo room “providing the opportunity for clients to come in and experience the most advanced office technology in the industry.“
When most people hear the word “Xerox,” they immediately assume copiers. In reality, this local technology company offers an entire suite of solutions ranging from scanners to folding machines, document management to marketing software, audio visual to digital communication and much more.
WETHERSFIELD: The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday awarded the Connecticut Department of Labor $924,509 to improve technology for existing workforce services and programs.
The award under the National Dislocated Worker Grant will help unemployed residents, jobseekers and employers “better connect” to workforce services through upgrades to a variety of systems, including development of a mobile-friendly platform for accessing the agency’s website.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy said “this award will help the Department of Labor in its continuing efforts to develop a thoroughly integrated workforce system that can provide real-time data to better meet the needs of today’s jobseekers and employers.”
Company Investigates Its Sales Practices
By Mitchell Young
NEW HAVEN: Alexion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: Alxn] moved into a new global corporate headquarters in downtown New Haven at the beginning of the year and that was big news for New Haven. The news for Alexion hasn’t stopped, however, and although much of it is very good, some recently not quite so much.
In early November, shares were halted in Alexion as the company announced an “internal” investigation into some sales practices to determine if they met the “policies and procedures and the related disclosure and other considerations raised by such practices.”
The company declined to release its 10Q report on time and said that the release would be delayed beyond a few days.
The allegations about the sales practices were raised by a former employee of the company involving the company’s flagship Soliris product. Soliris, first approved in 2007 for Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria [PNH], a rare blood disorder, had annual sales of more than $2.5 billion in 2015.
Soliris has been the basis of the company’s growth and financial strength to date and is now also approved for another rare disease, Atypical Hemolytic-uremic Syndrome, a disease that primarily affects kidney function, causing abnormal blood clots in small blood vessels in the kidneys that may block blood flow.