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Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions Wins Inaugural LA StartUp Prize

Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions (AGS), an innovative concrete technology company that emerged from geopolymer research conducted at Louisiana Tech University, has won the inaugural LA StartUp Prize.

The team from Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions won first place at the 2014 LA StartUp Prize. Credit: LA StartUp Prize

Presented as "the most amazing entrepreneurial competition on the Planet", LA StartUp Prize seeks to connect entrepreneurs with investors and to create "a culture of entrepreneurship" in Northwest Louisiana. The competition consisted of two qualifiers and the Startup Prize Weekend Grand Finale. Five finalists competed for $50,000 in cash and services and the possibility of startup funds from a panel of investors and judges.

"Competing in the LA StartUp Prize was incredible, but also very demanding," said Carlos Montes, chief technology officer for Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions and a research scientist at Louisiana Tech's Trenchless Technology Center. "It was especially challenging for me, since I don't come from a formal business background. I am used to being in the lab producing formulations, so this was a great opportunity to step into new territory.

"It was also a great growth opportunity for the company to be able to receive invaluable advice for improving our business model and strategic planning."

Montes explained that AGS is a company dedicated to the design and installation of geopolymer concrete products, which are not only ecologically-friendly, but also have superior properties compared to traditional concrete, in terms of their chemical and thermal resistance, and can be a much more cost-effective alternative.

"We live in a concrete world which is in a constant need of repair, costing a lot of tax payer money," Motes said. "Using less of these funds to repair concrete infrastructure will enable this money to be used in other priority areas that may cause great benefit to our society."

Montes and Dr. Erez Allouche, the T.L. James Eminent Scholar Chair in Civil Engineering at Louisiana Tech and CEO of AGS, have been working on this technology at Louisiana Tech for several years. Recent EPA regulations, in terms of emissions and carbon footprint reduction, have caused many in the engineering construction industries to seek new and more environmentally-friendly products. Motes said most of them were surprised that AGS' geopolymer product, which uses 100 percent fly-ash – a by-product of coal-burning power generation, could actually have better properties than traditional Portland cement.

"The success of the Alchemy Geopolymer Solution's team is a testament to the innovative nature of their technology and the entrepreneurial character of the individuals working to make that company a big success," said Dr. Dave Norris, chief innovation officer at Louisiana Tech. "It's also a tribute to the power of Louisiana Tech's innovation enterprise and the university's ability to spinout promising new companies with tremendous potential for growth and economic impact in north Louisiana."

Montes and his team at AGS are continuing to refine and improve their geopolymer products and see a bright future for the company.

"We already have a few major contracts signed with companies in the U.S. and China, and we expect to have more in the next few months," said Montes. "We have two more exciting products for the oil and gas industry cooking in the back burner that we think can cause a major change in the industry."

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