We’re excited about the four investments we made in 2014, and hope that over time, these companies contribute to improving life for all of us. In keeping with our overall mission, our investments were made in companies that seek to reduce oil used in transportation, repurpose food waste and strengthen local agriculture. Here’s a rundown of these four sustainable startups poised for growth.
If you’ve been keeping up with Sustainable America, you know that we’re on a mission to divert food waste from landfills and repurpose it into sustainable, value-added products like compost. We’re happy to report that we’ve closed our first compost-related investment in an exciting young company that does just that: EcoScraps. The Utah-based business collects fruit and vegetable scraps from grocery stores and wholesale produce providers and turns it into nutrient-rich, organic garden products like compost, potting mix and natural fertilizer. The EcoScraps line is sold in some of the same stores that supply the scraps, creating a tidy, full-circle process.
How often do you check your car’s tire pressure? Do you even know how often you should check your tire pressure? It’s not a difficult task, but it’s not convenient, either. You have to find your gauge, keep track of four tiny caps, get your hands dirty, wrestle with an air hose. Is it all worth it? Well, yes. And a new product called RightPSI will make the task much easier.
If you’ve been following Sustainable America’s evolution over the last two years, you know that part of our philosophy is that investing in entrepreneurs and startups is an effective way to help increase the sustainability of our food and fuel systems. What you might not know is how we do it, and what some of our criteria are for making these investments.
Our global oil system is operating at near capacity—97 percent—which just isn’t sustainable. Because 70% of oil consumption in the U.S. is used for ground transportation, reducing the amount of gas used by vehicles is key to heading off an impending crisis. Boston-based Vecarius, which recently won the 2013 Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship, is working to tackle this problem by turning vehicles’ exhaust waste heat into energy, technology that can reduce fuel usage in vehicles by 5 to 10 percent. We talked to CEO Steven Casey to learn more about his innovative product.
We’re thrilled to announce the winner of the 2013 Sustainable America/Greentown Labs Fellowship. Vecarius, a vehicle waste-heat recovery company based in Boston, was chosen from a field of nine finalists who pitched their business ideas to a room of 60 entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, and students at a networking event Thursday at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Mass.
The applications are in for our new fellowship program, and we’re excited by all the innovative startups that applied. We’ve narrowed the applicant pool down to nine exciting ventures engaged in trying to solve a number of problems in agriculture and transportation via sustainable solutions.
Here’s a head-scratching statistic: In 2010, crop growers in the United States lost $20 billion a year due to insect damage despite spending $4.5 billion on pesticide applications. It turns out that agricultural pest management is a surprisingly inefficient system that involves sticky traps, updating spreadsheets, and a lot of legwork.
An Indiana-based startup, has come up with a way to save growers legwork, hassle, and money—and reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on crops—by automating the insect-tracking process. We spoke with Kim Nicholson, Spensa Technologies’ vice president of business development, to learn more about the product and the company.
The results are in from the Village Capital VentureWell startup accelerator program that took place in Louisville this summer. Two innovative ventures were selected by their peers to receive $50,000 to continue growing their young companies.