Gross-Wen Technologies, Inc. receives $2M investment to further develop water quality tech
Gross-Wen Technologies Inc. announced on Wednesday receipt of a $2 million investment from Doerfer Corporation, a US-based engineering designer, manufacturer, and integrator of factory automation and technology-based systems and related equipment. GWT is working to solve one of the world’s largest problems, water quality, by commercializing an algal wastewater treatment technology developed and housed at…
Gross-Wen Technologies Inc. announced on Wednesday receipt of a $2 million investment from Doerfer Corporation, a US-based engineering designer, manufacturer, and integrator of factory automation and technology-based systems and related equipment.
GWT is working to solve one of the world’s largest problems, water quality, by commercializing an algal wastewater treatment technology developed and housed at the Iowa State University Research Park.
The startup is a member of the ISU Startup Factory’s inaugural cohort that graduated in June 2017 and is part of the Ag Startup Engine. In April 2018, GWT was issued a patent for its innovative algae treatment system.
The system, known as the Revolving Algal Biofilm Treatment System (RAB), removes nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewaters in a cost-effective manner. The algae biomass produced can then be used as a slow-release algal fertilizer or to make bioplastics and biofuels.
“Doerfer is the equipment manufacturer of our RAB system and has been a key partner in the system’s development, improvement and automation,” said GWT Founder and President Dr. Martin Gross. “To date, Doerfer has built several reactors for GWT, including the newest one at our long-term test site in Chicago at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.”
Doerfer Corporation manufactures and supplies process automation products to solve product manufacturing challenges of companies worldwide.
“We were one of several young companies Doerfer is hoping to partner with using their core competencies––the partnership ties in well with their competency in logistics and manufacturing,” Gross said. “Doerfer is enthusiastic about a partnership with a company taking on a scalable solution that solves a big problem – water quality.”
Gross said Doerfer played a major role in advancing GWT’s product to where it is today.
“Doerfer builds high-end, engineered products which are the basis of our technology,” Gross said. “Doerfer’s other clients include NASA and the US Navy, so you know the equipment they produce will be reliable for our customers. Our completely automated wastewater treatment system is robust and built to last in the wet and corrosive environment common in wastewater treatment plants.”
David Takes, Doerfer Corporation President, stated that the investment aligns with the company’s strategy to invest in cutting-edge, alternative technologies.
“The opportunity to work with GWT in developing this technology fits perfectly with Doerfer’s efforts to bring new and unique solutions to real-world problems,” said Takes. “The end result will be cleaner water as well as a growing and sustainable new business venture; both will bring substantial benefits to our communities at large.”
Gross said the funds will allow the company to make three to four hires including a vice president of operations and sales and operations staff.
“Our next goal is to hire an individual for the vice president of operations position with 10-plus years of wastewater treatment experience,” Gross said. “The sales position will be ‘boots on the ground,’ meeting with customers and building relationships. In addition, we are adding people to ensure our initial installations run smoothly.”
Gross said he takes a good deal of personal pride that GWT was founded in Iowa, has many Iowa roots and an ultra-local focus.
Gross is a native Iowan and attained his degrees from Iowa State. GWT’s co-founder, Zhiyou Wen, is a professor at Iowa State, and angel investor Dave Furbush, who personally invested $225,000 in the company, calls Iowa home.
The company also received help from numerous programs in the state, including the Ag Startup Engine, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, ISU Startup Factory and Iowa Economic Development Authority.
“Now, we are partnering with an Iowa manufacturer to build our systems and feel we’re bringing a solid technology to the ‘Iowa table,’ so to speak,” Gross said. “We’re creating a new product [algae biomass], bringing more skilled manufacturing jobs to the state, and most importantly, helping Iowa solve a big problem with water quality.”
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