Business Start-ups

Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise (GSSE)

The Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise (GSSE) Masters in Business Administration at the College of Business that seeks to provide sustainable enterprise solutions to some of the most stubborn issues of our time including poverty, disease, malnutrition and environmental degradation. Working in teams of three-to-five students, GSSE Enterprise Teams work on projects identified by many other organizations – domestic and international – including World Resources International, The Nature Conservancy and the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund.

AYZH, Inc: AYZH, Inc. (pronounced “eyes”), is a social venture developing and distributing products to improve the health and livelihood of impoverished women in rural communities. The team’s first product, JANMA, a clean birth kit, is a $2 solution addressing the global issue of maternal and child infection and mortality due to unclean birth environments. The initial target market is Tamil Nadu in India, home to three million rural women living in poverty who lack access to clean birthing conditions.

PowerMundo: PowerMundo manages a global distribution network for healthy and affordable technologies to empower people in developing countries. The company’s goals are to improve people’s lives, create local employment opportunities and conserve natural resources. The company sells items such as LED lights, small solar panels, solar radios and other products that can save people money and improve people’s health.

The bamboo bicycle team, sponsored by Panda Bikes, exhibits at E-Days Mechanical Engineering Exhibits.

Panda Bicycles, a Fort Collins, CO-based company, was founded by graduates of the Global Social Sustainable Enterprise (GSSE) Program John McKinney, Jacob Castillo and Mark Schlink. Panda Bicycles makes its bicycles out of bamboo, which is ideal bike frame material because it has a similar strength to steel, a similar weight to aluminum and the vibration dampening characteristics of carbon fiber. Castillo says there’s sustainability benefits as well. Bamboo is not only a rapidly growing renewable resource, but it also eats up carbon dioxide pollution as it grows, reducing the carbon footprint of the bicycles.

Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL)

The Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory and it’s spinoff companies are global leaders in reducing CO2 emissions in ways that also improve human health and pay for the solutions through energy savings:

Envirofit International: In 2003, Colorado State engineering Professor Bryan Willson led a collaboration with the Partnership for Clean Air, an umbrella organization of more than 100 government, development and environmental agencies in Manila, to drastically reduce the city’s air pollution caused by more than 250,000 motorized tricycles powered by smoky two-stroke cycle engines. Effort leads to the creation of Envirofit, which develops and disseminates technologies that reduce pollution and promote energy efficiency in the developing world. In January 2006, Envirofit signed its first major agreement to retrofit 3,000 two-stroke taxi engines in the Philippines with cleaner, more efficient engine technology originated at Colorado State University. In 2007, Independent UK charity Shell Foundation awarded $25 million in grants to Engines Lab spinoff Envirofit International to develop 10 million clean-burning cookstoves around the developing world. Shell aims to significantly reduce the number of global deaths caused by indoor air pollution from smoke generated by traditional fires and stoves used by more than three billion people.

OptiEnz LLC: OptiEnz Sensors LLC is a university startup that is developing biosensors for detecting food and water contaminants co-founded by Ken Reardon, a Colorado State professor of chemical and biological engineering. Reardon formed OptiEnz in tandem with Cenergy, the university’s vehicle for commercializing innovative clean and renewable technologies. OptiEnz is expected to develop, manufacture and sell the biosensors, which rely on the reaction of cultured enzymes to identify and quantify organic chemicals. With these devices, contaminants such as melamine, gasoline, solvents and nerve agents can be continuously measured in real-time without handling or pretreating a sample in any way. The biosensors can also be used to monitor chemicals in industrial processes, including those for food, beverage and biofuel production.

Solix Biofuels Inc.: A startup company based in Boulder, Solix is working with the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory to commercialize technology that can cheaply mass produce oil derived from algae and turn it into biodiesel – an environmentally friendly solution to high gas prices, greenhouse gas emissions and volatile global energy markets. Solix officials plan to commercialize the technology. After ramping up to widespread production, the company expects to eventually compete commercially with the wholesale price of crude petroleum. Solix officials estimate that widespread construction of its photo-bioreactor system could meet the demand for the U.S. consumption of diesel fuel – about 4 million barrels a day – by growing algae on less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. land area, which is otherwise unused land adjacent to power plants and ethanol plants. The plants produce excess carbon dioxide, which is necessary to turn algae into oil. In addition to producing biodiesel, the process would prevent a large portion of the greenhouse gases produced by coal-burning power plants from being expelled directly into the atmosphere.

Spirae Inc.: A privately held company based in Fort Collins is working with Colorado State on the Grid Simulation Laboratory to test “smart grids,” which are new ways to connect electrical generators and users to increase the efficiency and reliability of the electrical grid in large, complex distributed power systems. Distributed power refers to generating electricity from many small sources close to where it’s needed – such as next to a factory or neighborhood or other major power user. The closer it is, the smaller the transmission losses and the more energy – and money – saved. These sources can be engines or turbines or they can renewable sources such as wind and solar photovoltaics.

Prieto Battery

In 2010, Colorado State’s Clean Energy commercialization arm, Cenergy, co-founded a new company that will manufacture batteries up to 1,000 times more powerful, 10 times longer-lasting and cheaper than traditional batteries — technology that could revolutionize the military, automobile and health care industries. Prieto Battery is the first startup produced by the business arm of Colorado State’s Cenergy.

The technology was originally conceived by Amy Prieto, an assistant chemistry professor in Colorado State’s College of Natural Sciences. Prieto Battery aims to produce lithium ion batteries based on tiny or nanostructured materials on a mass scale. How it works: Using a process called electrodeposition, Prieto deposits or grows nanowires that make up the first key piece of the battery, the anode. She again uses electrodeposition to coat these tiny structures with polymers — organic materials — that conduct lithium ions but that keep the anode and the cathode electrically separated. The separation is important for keeping the battery from shorting. The cathode material is added, and the result is a three-dimensional battery. The nanowires that make up the anode cover a surface area that is 10,000 times greater than a traditional battery. By comparison, roughly 1,000 nanowires could fit in the width of a human hair. This high number of three-dimensional wires creates a much larger surface area than any other current battery. The electrodeposition manufacturing method is fast and inexpensive, allowing the technology to be scaled up to create batteries that can be used for everything from pacemakers to automobiles.