Sunday, May 14, 2017

Rutgers EcoComplex helps NJ green entrepreneurs grow

NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz reports:

Consider the humble basil plant. It grows fast, tastes good and is good for you.

That’s not a stretch of a metaphor for what happens at the Rutgers University EcoComplex Clean Energy Innovation Center in Burlington County, an incubator where, quite literally, small business and environmental stewardship grow in the same soil, even though, for the most part here, there is no soil.

“We are providing them an incubator,” said EcoComplex Director Serpil Guran. “If you think about little hatchlings, your business is like a little egg, your hatching and you need support, and we’re nurturing young companies. We’re providing, as you see in our greenhouse or in our tech scale up labs. So we provide lab space, business support. We have business experts, how to write a business plan and human resources support, labeling, marketing and maybe introduction to legislators.”

Basil growing hydrophonically in EcoComplex greenhouses

Like Reed Gusciora and Herb Conaway, assemblymen who organized this tour to showcase efforts in the Garden State, like the EcoComplex where entrepreneurs can find the fertile ground to do good and do well. 

Tenant companies that have taken root here here include Olive Creek Farms, run by George Saridakis and his wife, Susan.

“We really couldn’t start a venture like this without a facility such as the EcoComplex because they enable us to, at least when we started, they enabled us to acquire a facility that had the technology that we needed without the multi-million dollar investment to try a concept,” said Saridakis, standing among a quarter acre indoor field of basil being grown hydroponically. 

“In this one zone … we can produce the same amount of basil that would be grown on 15 acres in the field on an annualized basis,” he said.

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