Photo by Karen Roche
Melissa Squires, Phillip Crowley, and Michael Snow
of WES Power Technology Inc. demonstrate some of the
tools they've been using to develop their smart energy
control device for boats.
By Laurie G. Dempster
Special to the Gazette
Michael Snow and Phillip Crowley, two engineering graduates
at Memorial, are stirring up some entrepreneurial energy with
their fledgling company WES Power Technology Inc. With the
help of a new incubation consortium on campus, they hope to
take their idea out of the classroom and penetrate the lucrative
As part of a Term 8 engineering project, Mr. Snow began working
on a renewable energy system consisting of wind and solar
resources. The result was a complete hybrid system capable
of producing energy for a house. From there, Mr. Snow decided
to apply the technology to the marine market and formed WES
Power Technology. The company’s main focus is developing
a product that uses various onboard energy sources efficiently.
Possible energy sources aboard a boat include wind turbines,
solar power and batteries. The controller improves energy
efficiency, enabling the vessel to stay at sea longer and
making it more environmentally-friendly.
After winning the Term 8 Best Project Demonstration Award,
they were not ready to put the project away. “I didn’t
want to look back afterward and feel that this was something
we should have pursued,” said Mr. Snow.
Wondering what to do next, he took the advice of a friend
and fellow entrepreneur, and approached the P.J. Gardiner
Institute’s Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Gateway
to find out more about a new incubation consortium on campus
that helps nurture new business ideas and promote entrepreneurship.
“The incubation consortium is a working relationship
among entities in the Memorial University community,”
said Dr. Bob Richards, chair in Youth-Focused Technological
Entrepreneurship. “The consortium provides potential
entrepreneurs with simple, timely and coherent access to appropriate
support services. Depending on the needs and maturity of the
idea, innovators can access business coaching, mentoring,
funding support and technology incubation. A quick response
system ensures that entrepreneurs spend a minimum of time
looking for help and maximum of time receiving support.”
After meeting with a venture coach at the Gateway, Mr. Snow
and Mr. Crowley began preparing a business plan for the Genesis
Selection Board. After reviewing the plan, the board decided
the pair would benefit from the expertise available at the
National Research Council’s Ocean Technology Centre,
an incubator that provides administrative and technical support,
office space, as well as financial resources for a two-year
term. The support also includes weekly meetings with venture
coaches, business plan assistance, and help from a management
team and board of advisors.
Even though WES’s target market is located around the
high-end yachting communities of the United States including
Florida and California and the Great Lakes region, Mr. Snow
believes he is in the perfect place to start their business.
“With agencies like the National Research Council’s
Institute of Ocean Technology, Memorial’s Genesis Centre
and P.J. Gardiner Institute, we receive world-class technical
support and the kind of business assistance that’s the
envy of many small business owners. We can also test any of
our designs in a state-of-the-art internationally-known facility.
Our goal is to have a product ready for the market by late
2004 and we’re going to try and do everything here in