Ask Dr. Riccardo Signorelli, CEO of clean-technology company FastCAP Systems, what role the government may have had in getting his business off the ground and his answer is brief.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made FastCAP possible,” Signorelli said. “Simple as that.”
Signorelli and John Cooley, the co-founder of FastCAP, came into business following six years of research and development in the MIT Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES) Lab. At MIT, Signorelli and Cooley discovered they had come up with a revolutionary energy storage technology.
But one hurdle remained: transitioning the engineers’ idea into the marketplace. Signorelli and Cooley knew they needed some financial help, and they got it in 2009 in the form of a $5.5 million grant made possible by the Recovery Act.
“It created an avalanche,” Signorelli said. “We started to raise additional funding, to the point where we actually had to turn down investors.”
FastCAP – which creates durable green-friendly batteries that charge in seconds and deliver energy almost instantly, all at a price more than 50 percent less than today’s technologies – went from two employees to 20 today. If things continue at their pace, Signorelli said, FastCAP will double and hit 40 employees by the end of the year.
That hiring isn’t just salespeople and highly trained technical experts, but the all-important manufacturers as well. And this kind of employment explosion is only possible thanks to the kickstart provided by the ARRA, Signorelli said, noting that “the federal government has had and will continue to have a huge part in helping companies that innovate products.”
But it’s up to the private sector to do the actual hiring, which is why FastCAP is so committed to its internship program – especially because its work is so state-of-the-art.
“It’s not efficient to develop green technology without also developing the workforce,” Signorelli said. “Our internship program gets [young people] excited.”
“That’s how we make this revolution sustainable in the U.S.”
Ari Matusiak is Executive Director of the White House Business Council