Milwaukee Business Times: Startups chosen for WERCBench Labs accelerator

By Milwaukee Business Times

Seven startups have been selected to participate in the fourth cohort of the Midwest Energy Research Consortium’s WERCBench Labs accelerator.

M-WERC is located at the Century City Tower at 4201 N. 27th St.

They are:

  • Advanced Ionics, Chad Mason, Westmont, Illinois. Developing electrochemical energy technologies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Blue Line Battery, Dustin Herte, Whitewater. Engineers and manufactures industrial lithium ion battery systems.

  • ClearFlame Engines, B.J. Johnson and Julie Blumreiter, Woodridge, Illinois. Commercializing a technology that allows alternative fuels to be used in high-efficiency, low-emission diesel engines.

  • CyberPowered Home, Will Blanchard, Madison. Developed smart breaker box that senses and acts on electrical use information.

  • Deeplight Systems, Samuel Aten, Bob Desaunoi and Kyle Puckhaber, Waterford. Provides organizations with proactive cyber vigilance for Internet of Things devices.

  • Present Power Systems, Jason Katcha and Ezana Mekonnen, Whitefish Bay. Developing compact power electronics for solar, energy storage, medical and automotive applications.

  • Radiant Panel Technologies, Harry Giovanni, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Adapts new and proprietary radiant panel products to North American market applications.

The 12-week energy, power and controls-focused program began this week and culminates in a “Demo Day” with a $10,000 top prize.

MWERC also Thursday plans to reveal to its members and supporters a new second-floor home for its operations in the MWERC Energy Innovation Center, 4201 N. 27th St. in Milwaukee.

The organization, which controls 20,000 square feet in the building, is currently based in an 8,000-square-foot space on the seventh floor. It plans to return that floor to the landlord and begin operating only out of its second-floor space, which was recently renovated, said Alan Perlstein, executive director and chief executive officer of MWERC.

“We’re calling this the preview opening. They’ll continue to work for the next month-and-a-half to finish some outfitting,” Perlstein said.

The second floor space will consolidate the WERCBench Labs programming, prototyping and advanced manufacturing labs, and talent development and training in the same area of the building, Perlstein said. The Milwaukee Area Technical College-affiliated Innovative Educational Solutions Institute, as well as startup companies Present Power and Universal Power, will also co-locate on the second floor.

“The plan always was to go ahead and be where the labs are,” Perlstein said. “We’re up here because it was the first space that was available and built out.”

The 275,000-square-foot Century City Tower building that houses the MWERC Energy Innovation Center is owned by 4201 Property LLC, which is registered to Tom Ryan, owner of nearby Jonco Industries Inc. The EIC was launched in 2014 to be a central Energy, Power & Control gathering space aimed at conducting joint research, advancing innovative technologies, commercializing products and nurturing startups. It was originally 70,000 square feet, but has not taken off as quickly as expected and has been gradually reducing the space it occupies in the building.

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