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28 Appalachia/Southeast Ohio Articles | Page: | Show All

g-g-g-Global Cooling provides the deep freeze biomedical companies are looking for

An Athens-based company is primed to make a dent in the billion-dollar high performance cooling product market using an engine that's been around for almost 200 years.

Global Cooling LLC, a 16-year-old former engineering firm, is now producing ultra-low freezers for use in the biomedical field not only is based on green technology, but also promises huge savings.

The high-efficiency freezers, which keep its cargo as cold as -121 degrees Fahrenheit, are the first of their kind.

"If you go into a large bio-repository, or a hospital or a large pharmaceutical facility, you'll see a large number of ultra-low freezers employed for long-term storage of biological samples," explains Bill White, the company's director of marketing. "In some cases, you can find 400 or 600 of them at one place."

Global Cooling's new freezers perform the same task more uniformly, more quietly and at a fraction of the energy usage. They also use no oil, unlike traditional cooling products.

"Depending on the kilowatt-per-hour rate, it takes from $1,200-$2,000 a year just to operate (traditional units). What our ultra-low freezers do cuts the cost of that by about half. That's a serious benefit that is going to land on someone's bottom line."

Started in 1995 in Athens as an engineering firm, the company was primarily focused on patenting cooling technology that helped slow ozone layer depletion. Soon after, it determined Stirling engines, a 19th-Century invention that had been employed in steam engines, could be modernized as an improvement over the current technology.

The company began producing its own cooling products, culminating in the most recent model, which is now rolling off production lines. With investment from Ohio Third Frontier's Entrepreneurial Signature Program and TechGROWTH Ohio, it expanded its facility in Athens earlier this year. Its first three coolers off the new production line were delivered to Ohio University's Innovation Center last week, for use in its laboratories.

"It came full circle -- the university was involved in the early stages, helping with the business planning, and now they turned around and purchased the first three units off the line," says White.

Orders are already pouring in from bio-science companies both here and worldwide, and Global Cooling has a big future thanks to the innovation, he adds. The company expects to add 70 jobs over the next couple of years, most of them on the technical side.

Source: Bill White, Global Cooling LLC
Writer: Dave Malaska

UNCOMN.TV Network showcasing northeast Ohio

"Flannel Channel." "Hot Shots @ Hot Spots." "Got*City GAME! Cleveland."

Those catchy monikers are the titles of some of the channels of the new UNCOMN.TV Network, established in April by Cleveland's Barb Siss Oney.

UNCOMN.TV is short for "unifying communities," and UNCOMN.TV Network is an online technology company that brings together employers, universities, civic organizations and communities in Northeast Ohio to inform individuals, both locally and globally, about what the region offers.

"We want to attract talent, business and resources to the region by demonstrating the rich economic assets and quality of life in Northeast Ohio," Oney explains.

"I believe that positive community change is possible, and my goal is to find ways for individuals, businesses, organizations, and institutions to collaborate to positively impact Northeast Ohio. It's one thing to produce a great show, but that has a limited life," she notes. "If we are to have an ongoing impact on attracting and retaining talent in Northeast Ohio, however, we need a way to build ongoing engagement."

UNCOMN.TV Network is a combination of relevant content, collaborative marketing and social media.

"We apply the power of traditional TV, the global reach of the web and the interactivity of social networking to deliver information about living, learning and earning in Northeast Ohio," Oney says.

Tune in to the "Flannel Channel," and you'll view programs about regional businesses, educational institutions and organizations that are employing and educating local professionals. The "Hot Shots @ Hot Spots" channel features members of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club, Ohio's largest young professionals group, showcasing what they think is "hot" about Cleveland.

Got*City GAME! Cleveland (GCGC) was the first program of the UNCOMN.TV Network. GCGC represents a partnership with more than 150 colleges, universities, businesses and civic organizations to showcase fun locations throughout Cleveland. "Within weeks of launching, GCGC was being watched in more than 1,065 cities in more than 66 countries," Oney says.

There are plans to launch city-specific channels for Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown. "We'll also have forums, blogs, podcasts, live webcasts of conference keynote speakers and webinars for workforce development," she notes.

UNCOMN.TV Network received funding from Cleveland's Civic Innovation Lab as well as Ohio's Third Frontier program through Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE).

Source: Barb Siss Oney, UNCOMN.TV Network LLC
Writer: Lynne Meyer

Promiliad Biopharma wants to wipe out "superbugs"

A pair of Ohio University professors who turned their academic pursuits into a drug discovery company are getting closer to their goals.

Chemistry Professors Stephen Bergmeier and Mark McMills launched Promiliad Biopharma in 2002 after failing to get a National Institute of Health research grant for similar work they were doing at the university. Their research looked at ways to combat antibiotic resistance to so-called "superbugs." One of the most commonly known is MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, an infection is caused by a staph bacteria that has become resistant to traditional antibiotics.

"We were doing academic research and applied for an NIH grant to help fund it. We failed to get the grant, but when the reviews came back a couple of reviewers said our application sounded more like a business plan than an academic research grant," says Bergmeier.

An idea was born.

"We said, Let's make a go of it," Bergmeier says.

The company is currently in preclinical trials. Its technology works by stopping a process bacteria needs to grow. If that process is hindered, the bacteria die. Antibiotic resistant indirections have become a growing international health problem, with a lack of new drugs to treat them.

Promiliad Biopharma is located in Ohio University's Innovation Center, an incubator which recently opened the Biotechnology Research and Development Facility to support the region's biotech research community.

Promiliad Biopharma has six employees and a part-time secretary. It's been awarded about $4 million in funding through the NIH's Small Business Technology Transfer program. It recently received a $100,000 grant from TechGrowth Ohio, an Athens-based development organization that receives funding from Ohio Third Frontier.

Promiliad Biopharma will continue its preclinical testing for the next couple of years, and will file an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration, Bergmeier says.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Stephen Bergmeier, Promiliad Biopharma

Sanuthera's innovative ear buds offer hope to tinnitus sufferers

For people who suffer from tinnitus, or an uncontrollable ringing in the ears, finding relief from the disorder can be frustrating and expensive.

That frustration is something Ohio University clinical affairs director Jeffery DiGiovanni and Chillicothe VA Chief Audiologist Stephen Rizzo Jr., know well through their work with sufferers. The duo's compassion and ingenuity led them to create a new device that uses readily available MP3 technology to alleviate the ringing.

They have created wireless ear buds -- that also double as a hearing aid device -- that wirelessly streams sounds from an iPod-like player designed to play customized sounds that counteracts the buzz.

"We're deeply entrenched in hearing aid technology," DiGiovanni said. "Many people who suffer from tinnitus also use hearing aids, and we were both disappointed in the inability for manufacturers to come up with a device that would serve the needs of tinnitus sufferers in an elegant manner."

The ear buds have been developed through DiGiovanni's and Rizzo's company Sanuthera. DiGiovanni is understandably vague on the types of sounds developed, but says it's an improvement on traditional music or other generated sounds. They were created with the specific knowledge of the human auditory system to maximize the therapeutic effect The sounds can be customized to individuals, and downloaded through an audiologist to a user's personal MP3 device.

This spring the company received a boost with $337,000 in VC funds from TechGROWTH Ohio, an entrepreneur service provider and investor organization created through Ohio Third Frontier.

The funds will allow Sanuthera to speed up its prototype manufacturing, which is in process now. The company will soon under FDA testing and hopes to have the product to market by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Jeffery DiGiovanni, Sanuthera
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites http://www.twitter.com/feoshiawrites

WIN's fledgling wellness app designed to help folks follow a healthy diet

Andrea Trgovcich puts her stomach where her business is. Sort of.

The principal and founder of the Youngstown-based Wellness Integrated Network (WIN) even lost weight while testing her Web and mobile-based application; whether or not she lost sleep is unknown.

"My daughter and I are 'soft' testing this new system. We've both lost weight on it because of the pre-diabetic style of eating, which is six times per day. It's working for both of us and we're not pre-diabetic," says Trgovcich.

The WIN application tracks patients' or consumers' dietary consumption and recommends meals and activities based on medical history, lifestyle, cooking ability, available time and preferences. WIN organizes nutritional data, creates family meals (short of cooking, that is), and collects research data. Trgovcich says the three-year-old startup will target the medical field, but the applications are broader than that.

"It (WIN) has the capability to deal with any kind of nutritional aspect. It could be for an athlete training for a marathon or someone who needs to eliminate certain things from their diet. Or it could be a lifestyle choice," says Trgovcich. "Follow-on phases include grocery store and restaurant integration . . . We're tracking by a simple green, yellow and red light system: if you did it, if you substituted, or you skipped altogether."

"We got some interest right away from people who wanted to invest and thought it was a great idea. We applied to be a YBI portfolio (Youngstown Business Incubator) company right after that." Trgovcich is also getting help from JumpStart in Cleveland for advice on selecting a CEO, a search that is ongoing.

WIN is currently recruiting 40 to 50 patients ages 11-15 for a pilot in partnership with Humility of Mary Health Partners and Ohio University Osteopathic Medical School.

"We want the results published in an official, peer-reviewed journal. We're not just doing a 'proof of technology' at this point."

We are recruiting currently 40-50 patients (children ages 11-15Source: Andrea Trgovcich, Wellness Integrated Network
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

Third Sun Solar grows with commercial demand for alternative energy

In the 1990s, Geoff and Michelle Greenfield decided to build a new home off the electric grid outside of Athens. To accomplish that goal, Geoff Greenfield designed and built a number of systems to power the Greenfield's new home -- including a photovoltaic solar array.

Today, Geoff and Michelle Greenfield are president and CEO, respectively, of Third Sun Solar, an Athens-based solar integrator that has made the Inc. 500 two years in a row.

Gerald Kelly, the company's communications director, says the company began small after word of mouth spread about the solar system Geoff Greenfield had designed and built for his own home.

"As people heard about that and as people saw the home and saw what he had done there, he started getting lots of requests from people to do it for them," Kelly explains.

In 2000, the Greenfields established Third Sun Solar and Wind Power Ltd., including wind in their advanced and alternative energy services. But as the business matured, "we found that our core business really is in photovoltaic solar," Kelly says.

Today Third Sun has grown to become a major solar systems integrator, operating from the Innovation Center at Ohio University while growing to 30 employees, Kelley says.

"Up until a couple of years ago, we had six employees," Kelley notes. In addition to its Athens operations, Third Sun has added sales staff in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Third Sun projects have shifted from mostly residential in the beginning to mostly large commercial today, Kelley says. Part of that is a changing regulatory environment that provides more financial incentives to larger customers.

Kelley says the company plans to continue adding jobs but that "all the companies that do what we do are in the same sort of boat -- we are seeing this transition from the sweet spot being from 70 kilowatts (a small business or home) to more the megawatt scale."

As projects become larger, they also become more complex – both for Third Sun and for the customer, he says.

Source: Gerald Kelley, Third Sun Solar
Writer: Gene Monteith

Interthyr targets tough-to-treat diseases from Athens headquarters

Approaching retirement after 36 years at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Leonard Kohn decided he wasn't quite finished with his goal to improve life for people suffering from tough-to-treat diseases.

That's why he founded Interthyr Corporation in Athens to develop tests and medicines for endocrine diseases, autoimmune-inflammatory diseases and cancer. The company got its start with a $900,000 Ohio Technology Action Fund grant. He moved from Maryland to Athens, Ohio to set up a research laboratory at Ohio University. There he continued the work he'd started at a nonprofit research foundation he helped start in Maryland.

"I had reached the possibility of retirement at NIH, and wanted to do something useful in terms of development of a product for translational medicine," or turning research into something that could make a difference in patient's lives, Kohn said. "I decided the Edison Biotechnology Institute and the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine afforded me an opportunity to pursue those goals."

Interthyr Corporation specializes in research related to dozens of endocrine and autoimmune-inflammatory diseases including diabetes, Graves' Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as cancer. The company is also conducting research in certain equine diseases.

In 2008, the nine-person company moved to the Ohio University Innovation Center.

Interthyr Corporation, along with Athens-based Diagnostic Hybrids, recently developed Thyretian, which detects the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism directly linked to Graves' disease.

"(Thyretian) is a gold standard, and is commercialized within the United States and now moving abroad," Kohn said.

The company's work has drawn a $2.6 million grant to develop a new drug that could treat pancreatic cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Source: Leonard Kohn, Interthyr Corp.
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites

Turning “pee” into power is mission of E3 Clean Technologies

E3 Clean Technologies wants to turn your pee into power.

Gerardine Botte, a professor of biomolecular and chemical engineering at Ohio University, has developed technology to create energy from the ammonia found in human and animal organic waste. She is the founder of Athens-based E3 Clean Technologies and is developing her "SCR GreenBox," the product that will harness the technology for distribution, at the Ohio University Innovation Center.

Kent Shields, CEO of E3, says that the GreenBox has potential in several markets, wastewater treatment, agriculture, the military, electronics manufacturing, and power plant management.

The GreenBox works by using a patented low-energy electrolysis process that converts ammonia and urea in wastewater to hydrogen, nitrogen and pure water, says Shields. The box also produces hydrogen energy.

"This unit works similar to a battery," he says. "We break down ammonia and turn it into clean energy."

A large GreenBox that could be used by a municipal wastewater treatment facility would be about the size of a tractor trailer, says Shields. A smaller unit that might be used in a small manufacturing facility would be about the size of a refrigerator. The company estimates that the device could reduce the operational costs for reducing ammonia from wastewater by 60 percent.

E3 has received early stage funding of $350,000 from TechGROWTH Ohio, a technology funding program backed by the Ohio Third Frontier initiative. Pre-production GreenBox units could be ready by early 2012, says Shields. Within the next three years the company could hire up to 30 engineers and field technicians as it goes to market. He estimates that as many as double that number of jobs could be created through the manufacturing process for the product, for which E3 will contract with local companies.

Source: Kent Shields, E3 Clean Technologies
Writer: Val Prevish

Magnum Magnetics proves its stick-to-it-iveness within the marketplace

The flashy businesses may get the most buzz. But sometimes it's the simple, everyday product or service – offered consistently and dependably over decades – that creates the best prospects for long-term growth and success.

Magnum Magnetics, based in Marietta, is one of those businesses. The privately owned company, founded in 1991 manufactures high-quality, flexible magnetic products for a variety of commercial and retail uses.

Among the company's most common customers are commercial printers who create everything from magnetic ads and menu boards to nameplates and refrigerator magnets sold business-to-business or directly to consumers.

"We are the leading manufacturer of flexible magnets in the U.S.," says Joe Stout, company Director of Marketing and product development. "We both manufacture and develop products for the market."

Some of Magnum Magnetics more popular materials are those that can be used in printers. The company sells sheets that can be used in offset, screenprint, flexo, inkjet, and digital printers. The company also sells NatureMag™ Magnets that can be manufactured using up to 85 percent preconsumer recycled materials.

Magnum Magnetics' client base is international and the company has grown over the years to meet demand. The company started out with a 10,000 sq.-foot-facility in Marietta, where the company HQ is still located. Following several expansions, it now operates out of two facilities, with the second one in Caldwell, totaling 160,000 sq. ft.

So what's the secret behind that growth?

"I would say our focus on customer service and quality has led to our growth, and our ability to develop products that solve problems that customers have," Stout says.

Source: Joe Stout, Magnum Magnetics
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

Athens image-sharing startup boosted by world events

From an office at a business incubator in southeastern Ohio, Alan Schaaf's barely two-year-old tech company is involved in the people-vs.-president drama unfolding in Egypt -- albeit passively.

Schaaf is founder and the only fulltime employee of Imgur (pronounced like "imager"), a site to share pictures across social networks, blogs, and online communities for free. The recent OU graduate and a part-timer work from the Ohio University Innovation Center in Athens.

Every day over 100,000 people use Imgur to upload innocuous things like snapshots of dogs, clever cartoons and graphics of all sorts. They make their visuals accessible via Imgur's gallery as well as Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

But sometimes, as has happened lately, there's a reminder why there's a "world" in www.

Schaaf says Imgur usually has about 3,000 visits per week from people in Egypt. Recently, despite riots and interruption of Internet and related network services, that number dipped to 500.

Uploads related to the unrest have included things like screen captures of Al Jazeera's coverage of damage at the Egyptian National Museum, pictures of Egyptians holding tear gas canisters, posters that say "Mubarak Must Go" and related sentiments, and a typewritten letter, purportedly from inside Egypt, protesting the communications blackouts and urging freedom of speech.

Even before this, Time magazine's "Newsfeed" service spotlighted Imgur's top 10 images of 2010 in a story, and called Imgur "repository of all things meme-y and click-y."

Schaaf declined to discuss his company's revenue, but said "it's profitable enough to hire a full time employee or two in the coming months. The plan is to grow the company and expand its online reach as a social entertainment site."

Source: Alan Schaaf, Imgur
Writer: Gabriella Jacobs

Eris grows by showing where money is left on the table

Friends and business partners Jennifer Wexler and Kelly Bucci have poured their money, talent and time into a software company that helps hospitals catch billing errors that lead to lost dollars.

The pair founded Eris Medical Technologies, housed in the Youngstown Business Incubator, to build on more than two decades of personal experience finding those errors.

"Our software looks at patients' claims and predicts where hospitals have inaccurately charged for services, or services that have not been charged for," Wexler said. "For a very long time Kelly and I travelled together across the U.S. and did this work manually. We reviewed claims and showed clients where they were missing money or had charged insurance incorrectly. We thought, There has to be a better way to do this."

Bucci, who has a background in medical coding, believed she and Wexler could develop a better way. So they quit their jobs, borrowed money on their houses and in 2007 started Eris. Three years later they're still going strong, selling two web-based products: erisRx and assess.

The software is based a proprietary engine that boasts over 375,000 algorithms with code pairing capability. Wexler and Bucci developed the algorithms, and subcontracted an outside software firm to complete development.

The software is out on the market, and the company is working to expand its client base and partner with other companies to reach a wider healthcare provider network. The incubator has been crucial in allowing the self-financed company to grow offering free rent in their early years and access to accounting and other business services.

Sources: Jennifer Wexler and Kelly Bucci, Eris Medical Technologies
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

Lauren Innovations links organizations with first responders

Several years ago Ben Fierman, a former consultant, saw an opportunity to leverage what he felt was an outstanding safety and security component to a client's health and wellness application. The client, a physician, had no plans to market it so Fierman took his idea to Lauren International in New Philadelphia.

Today Fierman is president of Lauren Innovations.

The company's flagship product, NaviGate, is an Internet-based emergency response system designed as a link between the client and first responders. It provides immediate, critical information needed to make decisions on how to respond to an emergency and a central platform for organizations and first responders to access information and collaborate on decisions. The product also provides incident management, learning management, document management and emergency operations functionality.

Fierman says NaviGate, which has received Safety Act designation from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and is considered qualified anti-terrorism technology, is such a diverse, integrated application that it really has no "head-to-head" competition.

"We're in both development and the market place at the same time," says Fierman. "As a startup company with an emerging technology, we see growth every week."

Innovations has seven direct employees, and Fierman expects that number will at least double in the next six to 12 months. The company plans to add personnel in programming and development, in marketing and public relations, and in sales and sales support.

Fierman say NaviGate has had the most success in higher education, healthcare, and public venues such as high-density retail (shopping malls).

Source: Bennett Fierman, Lauren Innovations
Writer: Patrick Mahoney

Bio-Ag Solutions pursues new ways to use farm waste, improve ag efficiency

On a farm outside of Millersburg, Mike Malicky has figured out a way not only to use more bio-based waste more efficiently, but also reclaim nutrient-depleted farmland in the process.

Malicky, a Kansas native and owner of Mother Earth Farm, has been working for years on finding the answer on how to turn agricultural waste into agricultural treasure. Working in conjunction with several agricultural producers, he's in the process of patenting specialized formulas and processes that could prove to be a breakthrough in agricultural efficiency, bringing new life to old land and even converting some of the waste to electricity. His work has implications for other land, too, like former sites damaged by years of strip-mining. Malicky earned praise last year for reclaiming a strip mining site near Dundee, turning it into productive farmland it little more than 18 months.

Until the patent process on his current project he has to remain tight-lipped, he says, but does admit that he's excited by its potential benefits.

"People have tried for decades to do what we're doing," says Malicky. "We've figured out how to do it inexpensively, efficiently, on a smaller scale. We're in the research and development phase now, looking at how to produce it on a large scale to be able to bring it to the market as an even more affordable product than anything currently available."

Last summer, his new start-up company, Bio-Ag Solutions LLC, joined with Ohio University's Innovation Center in Athens, opening an office there while it works on finalizing the patent process and completing its research. Malicky hopes that within a few months, the legal processes will be complete and Bio-Ag Solutions' work will be revealed to the public. Until then, he's continuing to work on even more formulas to improve agricultural efficiency.

Source: Mike Malicky, Bio-Ag Solutions
Writer: Dave Malaska

Youngstown's Via680 wants to change Web communications with "intelliSling"

Youngstown-based Via680 is taking health care, retail and sales to the next level. And the portfolio company of the Youngstown Business Incubator may soon be changing the way people -- everywhere -- communicate.

CEO Tony DeAscentis points to the company's staple product -- intelliSling -- which he believes will change how people send and receive information over the Web.

The software company that started out in 2007 as Bizveo, is now moving past its streaming-video-only roots.

"Imagine being able to leave a voicemail, with attachments, video and assessments or surveys -- that you can answer whenever you want," DeAscentis says. "We rebranded the company, the product and our marketing strategy. We are really doing more than pushing a message around. We're moving intelligence around rapidly -- almost slinging it around."

He says email does that also, but adds that emails are not as effective at engaging people, noting they can be "sort of a nuisance. We're really giving people a new tool set, so they can take engagement to a new level."

It's that sort of visionary approach that has helped Via680 become something of a media darling, with a recent feature broadcast by the BBC and ongoing national coverage.

DeAscentis says the health care industry is still the company's No. 1 client. There are about 400 customers using Via680's intelliSling, and 10 people employed with the company. But the with a sales team constantly hitting the pavement, business is only growing.

"We're building a national and international market," he says. "Our goal is not to just employ 25 people. Our objective is to become a technology force."

Source: Tony DeAscentis, Via680
Writer: Colin McEwen

GEI's mission: new green jobs in Ohio's steelmaking belt

Green Energy Initiatives wants to become a successful environmental company. But its mission is to help bring jobs to Mingo Junction and other parts of Ohio's former steelmaking region.

Jim Lewis, the company's chief operating officer, says he and partner Dave Waller – two former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. managers – formed the company in the aftermath of the Mingo Junction plant's shutdown in 2009.

Lewis says a group of local business, religious and government leaders began discussing the fate of the region. But when no clear plan emerged, Lewis and Waller decided to to form Green Energy Initiatives, hoping that the success of the company will lead to green, spinoff jobs.

GEI has delved into a number of green areas, including solar lighting for portable toilets. A couple of big orders "kind of got the revenue going for the company," Lewis says.

Another business segment is in bioremediation. GEI distributes a beeswax-based material used to clean oil spills, and also helps companies develop spill prevention control and countermeasure plans. Additionally, the company provides environmental water sampling services.
While Lewis says other opportunities abound -- including supplying water used to force natural gas out of shale and then cleaning pollutants from the water afterward -- he believes one of the biggest is in liquid natural gas. When the steel mills shut down, numerous gas wells drilled to support the industry were capped, he says, stranding them before pipelines were built. GEI eventually hopes to build gas liquefaction plants at those well heads, using the natural gas to run the plants and then transporting the LNG to customers.

With eight employees and just under $1 million in purchase orders so far, the company hopes the ripple effect of its success will translate into hundreds of jobs within the community.

"I have a personal goal, and that is that in the next four to five years to have 400 to 500 people hired in businesses that are green in this part of Ohio."

Source: Jim Lewis, Green Energy Initiatives
Writer: Gene Monteith
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