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Triangle Startup bioMASON Wins $670K, International Award

Wolbert Allaart, Richard Branson, Ginger Dosier and Patrick Heuts. Green Challenge photo by Roy Beusker

A unique “green tech” biotechnology company in Research Triangle Park, started with the help of a $50,000 loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has won $670,000 in a big-time international competition.

 bioMASON, which started in temporary office space at NCBiotech before moving into RTP’s First Flight Venture Center, took the 500,000 Euro top prize today in for the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge in The Netherlands.

bioMASON co-founder and CEO Ginger Dosier pitched her system that can revolutionize global construction projects to a panel of judges led by Sir Richard Branson.

The company uses the tools of biotechnology, in this case a harmless bacterium, to develop a masonry material at room temperature that replaces traditional clay and concrete without the high energy consumption associated with standard manufacturing.

Because this process can be completed in ambient temperatures, no fossil fuels are burned in producing bioMASON bricks. Dosier says her bricks are comparable in strength and production time to standard “fired” masonry brick, but bioMason offers a safer, cleaner and more effective alternative.

Sir Richard Branson returns as judge

Every year since 2007, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has challenged people around the world to enter the competition by sending in sustainable, creative, innovative products and services that reduce carbon emissions. This year, the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge drew 311 entries from 57 countries. Branson returned as jury chairman after first taking on the job in 2007.  

“I’ve seen some amazing carbon-reducing ideas here today,” he said. “Sustainable goods and services like these can really make the difference in a world that’s dealing with the effects of climate change. But a good idea’s one thing – without the right structure in place, it’s not getting out of the gate. That’s why I wholeheartedly support this competition. I wish each of the finalists all the success in the world with his or her business.”

Dosier won over two Dutchmen -- Wolbert Allaart of the Hague and Patrick Heuts of Oosterbeek -- and two other American women, Alison Greenlee and Kavita Shukla.

Greenlee's company, SachSiSolar,produces a product called Clean Liner, which doubles the productivity in solar panel manufacturing by preventing contamination of silicon wafer molds. Shukla won the Facebook public popularity vote for Freshpaper, a biodegradable paper infused with spice extracts that keeps products fresh two to four times longer.

Allaart and Heuts each won 100,000 Euros (approximately $134,000) for their green inventions.

The jury chose Allaart for his company Ampyx Power’s glider, a sailplane that flies at high altitudes, capturing wind at a low cost.

Heuts got the runner-up prize for his company's efficient propeller replacement for inland shipping barges. His design moves up and down like a dolphin’s flipper, reducing CO2 emissions by half.

NCBiotech loan helped make successes possible

Dosier is using its Company Inception Loan, issued by NCBiotech in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2012-2013, for business development activities, prototype development and manufacturing scale-up. She has lauded the NCBiotech support as an important early vote of confidence and recognition for her company's breakthrough technology.

She was also among three local company entrepreneurs chosen to participate in the second annual Cherokee-McDonough Challenge as part of Triangle Entrepreneurship Week at the Marbles Children’s Museum in downtown Raleigh.

William McDonough, a globally recognized leader in sustainable development that recently published "The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance," kicked off the event with a keynote address on the topic of sustainability and green building principles.

"We are excited about supporting the success of these ambitious and disruptive environmental startups,” McDonough said.

bioMASON was joined by HomeWellness and Platinix as the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge finalists.

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