[Updated, 6/16/10] We’re excited about our full-day Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, & Entrepreneurship coming up this Thursday, June 17, which will be packed with presenters from all slices of the tech and startup space in the Boston area. And we’ll be capping off the day by bringing you a dozen young companies that we believe are poised to transform the life sciences, IT, and energy/cleantech sectors. They’ll each give a three-minute rundown on what they’re out to do, after which the audience will vote on the most transformative in each category. Talk about high pressure!
So here I am to introduce you to the 12 companies who will take the stage for the rapid-fire Xpo. They’re a diverse bunch, even within each individual category. For example, our life sciences track features a company out to bring open-sourcing to drug discovery, a stealthy startup making a device for better skin grafts, an award-winning maker of medicine packaging technology aimed to intercept counterfeit drugs, and a maker of a sleep-tracking device that’s captured the heart of Regis Philbin. Read on to learn a bit about all the companies in each of the track, and sign up for XSITE 2010 so you can hear more about each of these fascinating ventures straight from the folks who are bringing them to life.
The Difra team made it into the energy track of our Xpo because they’re out to democratize the building and customization of homes, and make construction more environmentally friendly in the process. Co-founded by MIT graduates, the company is using computer-aided design and manufacturing software to model homes in 3D and translate those models into 2-D pieces that can be cut out of engineered wood with a laser device and assembled using only a rubber mallet and (optionally) glue.
The company’s co-founders see its technology, which they say results in less waste than traditional construction methods, translating into personalized homes for people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford them. The system could also enable the construction of basic housing in the wake of floods or earthquakes. “Building a home is like laying out a giant 3D-puzzle,” co-founder Morris Cox told Xconomy. “It is the perfect community project. Most of it can be done by ordinary people. We see it as a rewarding and socially enriching project for neighbors, relatives or other groups.”
This Boston-based startup is combining more efficient LED lighting with networking and energy monitoring software to enable commercial facilities to light up their operations for a tenth of what it used to cost. The company makes devices that contain strips of LED lights and a mini computer processor designed to network with other devices in the same vicinity. Facilities managers can program the devices to work in zones, and collaboratively turn on and off depending on the functions of the building. Digital Lumens’ system also includes a software interface that tracks energy usage, to inform managers on how to more efficiently program the lighting in the future. A typical 250,000 square-foot commercial facility using traditional incandescent lighting (think warehouses or big-box retailers) costs about $1 per foot to light annually. Digital Lumens aims to bring that cost down to a dime per foot.
Goby’s website, which was recently unveiled after more than a year in stealth mode, is out to help users find fun things to do. You plug in what kinds of activities you like, where you’d like to do them, and when you have the time to do them, and Boston-based Goby’s search engine scans data from a slew of Internet travel sources. It arranges the options in order of distance from a central point, offers information on driving directions and photos, and displays the results on an interactive map. The company has designed its site to give users much of the information they need to make travel plans without actually having to leave the site.
It’s no shock that engineers and the auto industry are looking to all sorts of sources as avenues for going green, but shock absorbers are one I just hadn’t heard of yet. Until I read about Levant Power, an MIT spinoff that is out to harvest energy from the bouncing of vehicles as they drive down bumpy roads. Levant is testing its shock absorbers on buses, trucks, and military vehicles and aiming to get the technology to production in 12 to 18 months, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Zackary Anderson told Xconomy earlier this spring. The plan is to first retrofit heavier vehicles, then take the technology to smaller passenger cars after one to two years. Levant’s product is more expensive than traditional shock absorbers, but is designed to pay for itself in less than two years.