Exploring Mountains of Innovation in Northern New England

11/3/09

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raise $45 million in a new round of equity financing.)

—I was almost ashamed that I had walked by the Middlebury, VT, headquarters of startup Brighter Planet every week on my way to the bank for nine months before I dropped by for a visit. True to the mission of the Middlebury College students and professor who founded the firm, I found software developers and other technical folks working hard to launch a new social Web application that enables people to share ideas on how to lower their carbon footprint, among other functions. The app has since been launched (which reminds me that I should probably go back to the startup’s office for another visit).

—One of the most rapidly growing tech employers in Vermont is MyWebGrocer, a provider of software for grocery stores to enable their customers to do their shopping and coupon “clipping” online. The big new development at the firm that CEO and found Rich Tarrant told me about in August was its development of an iPhone app. When I saw Tarrant last week in at the Vermont 3.0 event in Burlington, he said that the app had been submitted to Apple for approval, but he wasn’t sure when it would be available.

Mascoma, a Lebanon-based developer of cellulosic ethanol, gave me the most comprehensive lab tour a startup has ever provided to me last month. The highlight was a close look at the dozens of small fermenting machines that the company uses to test new ways to make ethanol with non-edible feedstocks like broken down wood chips and corn husks. It reminded me a bit of the nearby Long Trail beer brewery in Vermont. (But don’t worry. They’re not making beer out of wood chips.)

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