It was recently announced that former I-Corps team, Electric Field Solutions, Inc. had been acquired by Premier Utility Services LLC. This team, lead by Professor Nilton Renno, Chair, AOSS Master’s Degree Programs and Director, Master of Engineering Program in Space Engineering, went through the I-Corps program to find application for their research on measuring electric fields caused by dust storms on Mars (you can read the article here). Now, the good news keeps flowing as they announce they will receive complete payment for their acquisition in this year.

CFE had a quick interview with Professor Renno to discuss the “new” news, learn about how they got to where they are today, and look to what’s ahead for their research.

CFE: What is your most recent announcement?

NR: Premier Utility Services LLC, a member of the Willbros Group, acquired my startup company (Electric Field Solutions Inc) in February 2015.  On March 31st, Premier Utility Services LLC was acquired by USIC (North America’s leading underground utility damage prevention firm). During this process, Electric Field Solutions Inc became a member of the Willbros Group and the University of Michigan and Electric Field Solutions received the full payment for the acquisition, originally planned to be made in three years.

CFE: What are next steps/future for the technology?

NR: The Willbros Group (WG) will now grow Electric Field Solutions. I will be helping them develop the market and various applications for the technology.

CFE: How did CFE/your I-Corps experience help you get to where you are today?

NR: CFE/I-Corps helped me find a market need and focus on it.  They also helped me be open minded and look for opportunities, in spite of the possible contradicting advice from others that have been through different experiences. The mentorship provided by CFE and OTT were essential for the success of my startup. Moreover, one of my students benefited a lot from the experience.

CFE: What advice would you give to other research teams about how to achieve success like yours?

NR: Look for a market segment that is suffering from a pain that your technology can alleviate.  Then, make short and long term plans, be tenacious and be patient.  Grab all opportunities that you discover.

Photo Credit: CLaSP