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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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January 22, 2004
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Entrepreneural energy

Melissa Squires, Phillip Crowley, and Michael Snow of WES Power Technology Inc.

Photo by Karen Roche

Power up

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 yachting community.

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 Newfoundland.”


 


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Next issue: February 5, 2003

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