Four startup businesses were awarded financial assistance from the state this week, including an Akron-based company that makes protective covers for newly planted trees.
Inventor Bill Brown says his product, called a TreePan, is made of recycled plastic.
“It snaps around the base of a young tree and it will protect that young tree for the first two or three years of its life,” Brown said. About half of all newly planted trees don’t live longer than two years. Brown believes his invention will give new trees a better chance of survival as it directs more water to the plant’s root system. TreePans are unique for several reasons, according to Brown.
“It’s the only product that is reusable and besides the water benefits to it, it’s the only product that expands with the growth of the tree,” Brown said. “So, you can put it around a tree that’s an inch in diameter and it grows all the way up to 12 inches.”
Brown envisions nurseries, orchids, and municipalities will be interested in his product. He expects each TreePan will retail for $84.
“It pays for itself in probably 18 months,” Brown said. “First of all, it’s a lot more expensive to replant a tree than to keep it alive. Also, you don’t have to water it near as much…and your not mulching every year. You can just disassemble it and use it on a new tree the next year.”
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board awarded TreePans with a $100,000 loan to help launch the product. The other startups that were awarded assistance through the IEDA’s Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund are Stone Medical Corporation in Bettendorf, FliteBrite in Des Moines, and SynderBio in Coralville.
Information from IEDA on the other companies:
Stone Medical Corporation, located in Bettendorf, provides hospitals with Clean Collect Blood Culture Kits. Clean Collect uses a patented diversion method to prevent contamination of blood cultures. The company recently completed a key distribution contract and sales partnership with a major distributor of lab products for hospitals. With minimal viable competition in the target market, clear market access, and a strong sales partner, the company has increased sales and is in strong position for rapid sales growth. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan through the Innovation Acceleration Launch Fund.
FliteBrite has developed a patent-pending technology that addresses the disconnect between brewery patrons and the craftsmanship of the brew master. Most breweries offer “flights”, which allows customers to enjoy a small collection of individual beer samples. Currently, the expanding craft beer industry lacks a solution for informing customers on what they are sampling. This leads to confusion and a missed opportunity to guide future purchasing habits. FliteBrite’s electronic serving system implements interactive technology to intelligently solve this problem, while creating a dynamic opportunity for this industry to better connect with more educated customers. This Des Moines-based company was awarded a $25,000 grant from the POCR Fund primarily for product refinement and electronic certifications.
SynderBio Inc. is located in Coralville and founded on technology developed at the University of Iowa. The company’s core technology platform is based on an innovative mechanical technique to discriminate benign and malignant cancer cells. SynderBio has already developed two prototype devices using GAP funding obtained from U-I. The next milestone for SynderBio will be development of a manufacturing-ready instrument for use in research laboratories. The company received a $25,000 grant from the POCR Fund for collecting market intelligence and assessment and validation activities.
(Story by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)