APEI Among Winners Announced by U.S. Deputy Secretary

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U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman’s Wednesday tour of Arkansas Power Electronics International’s facility coincided with his announcement of $11 million in innovative research and technology grants to 67 businesses nationwide.

APEI has been awarded a grant of $150,00, the largest amount available. The company, which operates out of the University of Arkansas Research and Technology Park, develops state-of-the-art technology in power storage systems for electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies.

Poneman said making the announcement of the grants — part of National Small Business Week — at APEI’s headquarters was ideal because the firm reflects President Obama’s commitment to helping small businesses create jobs and expanding the country’s clean energy economy.

“The level of innovation, and creativity, here is equal to any I’ve seen,” Poneman said when asked how Arkansas compares to other states.

Poneman also said the Energy Department supported $8 billion in contracts to more than 7,000 businesses nationwide over the past year.

The 67 businesses selected through a competitive process to receive the grants are eligible for a second phase of the program. That program will award up to $1 million over two years to an unspecified number of winners.

“Deputy Secretary Poneman could have traveled anywhere in the U.S. to make these important announcements today, so we welcome his recognition of Arkansas’ advanced energy innovation and entrepreneurship,” Arkansas Advanced Energy Association executive director Steve Patterson said.

Two other Fayetteville-based companies also made announcements on Wednesday.

Next Gen Illumination Inc., an LED lighting manufacturer, said it will transfer its light LED manufacturing from Asia to Fayetteville. Next Gen’s Jerry McCormick said the move is due to DOE stimulus funds awarded through the Arkansas Energy Office’s ARRA funding.

Startup Silicon Solar Solutions, meanwhile, said it has raised additional financing from the Arkansas Department Finance Authority and private equity financing to begin work on a pilot production line of its technology that decreases the costs of manufacturing solar power.