For years, Carl Irwin has made an annual trek to Denver for a conference bringing together primarily inventors of alternative energy systems, and people who could fund their development.

And always Irwin, who heads Industries of the Future-WV, had in the back of his mind the idea for a similar conference, but one that was uniquely adapted to West Virginia’s resources.

“This is an energy region, there are a lot of things happening in the energy fields that impact the overall economy,” Irwin said. “These transitions create new business development opportunities as we evolve the economy of the future.

“At the same time, states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky still have a fossil-based infrastructure, which will be around for years, so we’re looking for technologies and companies that can work within that structure and come up with ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiencies.”

The result is next week’s inaugural TransTech Energy Business Development Conference, modeled the event after the Denver-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Industry Growth Forums.

TransTech will mainly spotlight ways to improve efficiency and sustainability in traditional West Virginia industries like coal, steel, glass and polymer manufacturing.

The conference is Nov. 14-16 at the Waterfront Hotel and the general public is encouraged to participate. Agenda and registration information are available on the conference website or by contacting Kathleen Cullen at or (304) 293-6456.

Irwin hopes the TransTech Conference will become an annual event and will have an impact similar to that of the Industry Growth Forums, which have been a catalyst for more than $3.4 billion in financing for participating companies in less than a decade.

To achieve that goal, the conference was designed to be an interactive idea hub, rather than a rigid informational forum. One of the highlights will be presentations from 15 start-up companies to groups of investors and technical experts. The ideas from the start-ups range from a solar-powered frack water remediation system to a mechanism that allows users to charge electronic devices by walking. The 15 presenting start-ups have had previous funding ranging from $50,000 to more than $30 million.

Following the pitches, representatives from the presenting companies will field questions from panels of the investors and technical experts including WVU faculty.

“I’m really excited about the companies that are going to be making pitches for funding,” Irwin said, “they are definitely transitional technologies and some could truly become our industries of the future.”

The event will also include vendors and companies looking to partner and share ideas, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office, as well as WVU’s Advanced Energy Initiative and National Research Center for Coal and Energy, and numerous private sector participants.

“There will be networking opportunities,” Irwin said. “We expect that the general attendees will interact with the companies and hopefully share some of the excitement of diversifying energy, reducing carbon and at the same time, promoting new businesses as well as competitive advantages for existing manufacturers.”

For a complete list of TransTech activities, see:



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CONTACT: Carl Irwin, Industries of the Future-West Virginia