Clean energy organization at Rutgers receives $440K grant from U.S. Dept. of Commerce


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The Rutgers EcoComplex helps to innovate and fund clean-energy startups as a unit of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. The organization received a grant of nearly half-a-million dollars from the United States Department of Commence.


The Rutgers EcoComplex recently received a significant grant from the United States government, which they plan to use to further innovate the field of clean energy.

The Rutgers EcoComplex is an organization dedicated to furthering renewable energy, said Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, associate director for the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES).

“The EcoComplex is a unit of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and is a clean energy innovation center and business incubator. The staff provides a variety of business and technical services to startup and small companies, primarily those focused on clean energy technologies or services,” Brennan-Tonetta said in an email.

On Nov. 21, the Rutgers EcoComplex received a grant from the Department of Commerce for $439,000 for their proposal of a program called EcoIgnite, Brennan-Tonetta said.

“The Rutgers EcoIgnite program will serve as the hub of an innovative clean energy entrepreneurship ecosystem in the New Jersey region. It will include a network of resources to assist new and existing clean energy companies to successfully maneuver the innovation pathway that includes discovery, concept assessment, business model assessment, technology verification, scale-up and commercialization,” Brennan-Tonetta said.

The program is aimed to further the environmental advancement by working with the companies on the front lines of this advance, said Dr. Serpil Guran, director of the Rutgers EcoComplex.

“We will be reaching to small project developers … (who) are in the process of developing ideas on clean energy,” Guran said.

Essentially, the program aims to find small companies who are pioneering clean energy technologies and help them in every way possible, Guran said.

One way that these companies are helped by the program is through introductions to larger companies. The program will take smaller companies with ideas and connect them with larger, more established companies that have the means to expand the idea, Guran said.

Another way the EcoComplex aims to further the field of clean energy is by educating various people and organizations in the area about what is going on in the field and what needs to be done and how they can help, Guran said.

The program is also reaching out to various sources for aid. They are connecting relevant Rutgers faculty with the project, enlisting the help and resources of investors and bringing established clean energy companies on board to help, Guran said. 

They are also reaching out to the appropriate state and federal departments, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she said.

“The work will be carried out by the Rutgers EcoComplex staff, along with other Rutgers units including Rutgers University—Camden CoLabs, Rutgers Advanced Technology Extension Program, the Rutgers Masters of Business and Science Program, Rutgers Office of Technology Commercialization and the Rutgers Office of Economic Development. In addition, University of Maryland is a partner on this project,” Brennan-Tonetta said.

The goal of all the networking and funding is to promote innovations in the field of clean energy, Guran said.

“EcoComplex is a clean energy innovation center,” Guran said.

EcoComplex and its program EcoIgnite are interested in furthering their technology to include wind, solar, biomass and organic waste, energy storage, energy efficiency, fuel cells, clean water and water power, sustainable food systems, geothermal energy and advanced vehicle technology, Guran said.

EcoComplex is a great program with a great staff behind it, Brennan-Tonetta said.

“My favorite thing about the EcoComplex is the outstanding staff. They are dedicated professionals who are service oriented, committed to excellence and always have the best interest of their clients in mind,” Brennan-Tonetta said.

The advances in clean energy will not only help the environment but the economy as well, Brennan-Tonetta said.

“The ultimate goal is to provide a solid network for clean energy industry growth and to maximize the economic development impacts that it can generate,” she said.


Zachary Peterson is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.


Zachary Peterson

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