Ann Arbor Fuel Cell Developer Adaptive Materials Acquired by Ultra Electronics Holdings

1/4/11

Adaptive Materials, an Ann Arbor, MI-based developer of solid oxide fuel cells for use by the military and in recreational vehicles, has been acquired by UK-based Ultra Electronics Holdings. Adaptive Materials announced in a news released today that it will continue to develop and manufacture its propane-powered fuel cell systems from its current Ann Arbor facility.

Adaptive Materials is considered to be a Michigan success story, having taken its product from a University of Michigan lab to military contracts totaling about $45 million in the last decade, all without taking a dime of venture capital or angel funding.

Michelle Crumm, co-founder and chief business officer, explained to me in a two-part interview last spring (Part 1 and Part 2) that the company’s success was due to a decade of building relationships with military customers and refusal to accept “other people’s money.”

Crumm also told me the company was poised for big growth, moving from hundreds of units sold to the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to thousands, in part because of a need for long-lasting fuel cells for “eyes in the sky” missions over Afghanistan. She told me that Adaptive was having some trouble finding qualified engineers in the area to fill nine vacant positions. Today’s news release says that the company still needs to fill 10 positions.

Crumm and her husband, co-founder Aaron Crumm, will retain their positions in the company, according to the release. Ultra Electronics COO Rakesh Sharma said in a news release that the takeover will allow the company’s Ann Arbor workers more of an opportunity for career advancement. Adaptive currently employs 65 workers.

Ultra Electronics serves niches in the defense, security, transport and energy market sectors.

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