Ohio University Innovation Center Takes Delivery of Stirling Ultracold Freezers

Innovation Center purchases Stirling Ultracold freezers
TechGROWTH-supported company is changing the ultra-cold freezing industry

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 14, 2011) – The future of bioresearch looks, well, cold. Ohio University’s business incubator, the Innovation Center, today announced the installation of three ultra-cold freezers manufactured locally by university-backed Stirling Ultracold, a Division of Global Cooling Inc.

Stirling Ultracold is an Athens-based developer and manufacturer of a new generation of high performance and environmentally friendly ultra-low temperature freezers that operate below -86°C. The units are designed for use in biological and electronics research, said Innovation Center Director Jennifer Simon. 

“We are excited to be part of this venture,” Simon said. “Ohio University has a long and successful history of supporting research technology and business start-ups in Southeastern Ohio. Our purchase of these freezers is a perfect example of an entrepreneurial ecosystem at work – the company started in Athens, is manufacturing locally and now putting that technology to work for other local companies, including those at the Innovation Center.”

Founded by David Berchowitz in 1995, Global Cooling began making waves in the cooling industry thanks to Berchowitz’ innovative Stirling engine designs. One such design featured in a solar-powered refrigerator led to initial funding of the company, providing the necessary backing to create a line of revolutionary ultra-cold freezers. Dismissing traditional cooling methods such as dry ice, Peltier or conventional cascade refrigeration, Berchowitz and his design team produced a line operating of free-piston Stirling engine technology.

TechGROWTH Ohio, a state Entrepreneurial Signature Program administered by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, has supported GlobalCooling since 2006. TechGROWTH is funded by Ohio’s nationally recognized Third Frontier program to serve early-stage companies in southeastern Ohio.

Initially providing market research and business planning through collaboration with students in the College of Business, TechGROWTH invested $1.3 million in 2009, which allowed the company to obtain a larger facility and reach production sooner.

“The network of resources that have come together to help this company commercialize its technology and create jobs is an outstanding example of what we can accomplish by working together, “ said Lynn Gellermann, executive director of TechGROWTH Ohio and the Center for Entrepreneurship.“We look forward to replicating this type of effort time and time again in the years to come.”

According to Neill Lane, Global Cooling’s president and chief executive officer, Stirling Ultracold freezers operate more efficiently than traditional cooling units – weighing a third less and using at least 50 percent less energy than their counterparts – establishing the company as a valid competitor in the quarter billion dollar -80°C market and below.

“Over the lifetime of the product, our ultra-low temperature units use about 45 percent of the energy of the best competing product,” he said. “That translates to less load on a building’s air conditioning system. Not only is that a much smaller carbon footprint for the environment, it will also save companies more than $3,500 in electric costs over the lifetime of the product.”

Installation of Stirling’s compact, under counter freezer units at the Innovation Center also reinforces the university’s commitment to sustainable operations in campus buildings and will lower electric costs for the facility, Simon added.

With assistance from the Athens County Economic Development Council, Global Cooling obtained an Ohio job creation tax credit, promising the state 70 new jobs at its headquarters in the Poston Industrial Park of the Athens County Port Authority. Currently, nearly 30 Athens residents are employed by the company. Additionally, theInnovation Center and Tech Growth Ohio assisted Global Cooling in obtaining a Technology Investor Tax Credit designation which provides a tax credit to investors in startup companies.

“We had an overt goal to build a high tech manufacturing business in Athens,” Lane said. “We wanted to base the company here to create jobs and to help build an entrepreneurial community in Athens County.”

The Shuttle™ – a design pinnacle for Stirling Ultracold – is an industry first. A lightweight portable ultra-cold freezer capable of operating from a standard automotive power outlet, the Shuttle™ allows for short or long-term transportation of high-value vaccines or biological specimens – ideal for clinical or diagnostic medicine.

To date, Global Cooling has built and distributed hundreds of Shuttles™ and is starting production of the larger under counter models – of which the Innovation Center is the first customer. In time, the product line will offer various sized models up to 35 cubic feet, Lane said.

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