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Published on Dec 16, 2016
Clarkson University Prof. Ken Visser decided a business might be the way to get more people to learn about wind energy and how it can work for them. So, he created a mobile wind energy application, WindApp, and started a company, Energy Research Applications, with the help of the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson.
“Most people don't have enough of a background about what's involved in choosing a wind turbine, how much energy is generated, or what the power rating means,” says Visser, associate professor of mechanical & aeronautical engineering and director of Clarkson's Center for Sustainable Energy Systems. “Today, if you wanted a wind turbine, most folks would probably just look on the internet and hope to find the information they need and can use. WindApp offers an easy, practical way for the public to determine which wind option is best for them.”
Drawing upon more than 10 years of expertise in the wind energy field, Visser decided to help match users with wind energy possibilities. With the help of a student, he wrote a mobile app that figured out the user's location, the local wind speed and how much energy could be generated when a particular turbine was selected. WindApp then computes how long it will take to take to pay back the turbine choice, based on the buyer's local electric rates.
Although that satisfied Visser's intellectual curiosity, he needed to become an entrepreneur for the app to become a commercial reality. Here's where Matt Draper, executive director of Clarkson University's Shipley Center for Innovation and director of corporate engagement, came in. He grows businesses and entrepreneurs. The Shipley staff, Clarkson's brainpower, and business experts on tap at the North Country Innovation Hot Spot are dedicated to guiding entrepreneurs through the complex process of commercialization.