REECycle Receives $750K Grant from the National Science Foundation
A startup founded by Bauer College alumni during their time as students in the college’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship has garnered attention from a national agency that supports science and engineering research.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $750,000 grant to REECycle — a company that transforms electronic waste into a sustainable, domestic supply of rare earth elements.
The business is led by Bauer alumni Casey McNeil (BBA ’14) and Susan Bohuslav (BBA ’15) and uses a patented technology developed by the University of Houston’s Robert A. Welch Chair of Science and Texas Center for Superconductivity Director Allan Jacobson, along with Chief Chemist Pradeep Samasakere.
Since its founding in 2013, the company has been awarded over $300,000 in prizes through various business plan competitions, including a $150,000 Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation. The most recent award, also provided by the NSF, is a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant, bringing the total amount raised by REECycle to $1.15 million.
“Because of our success in Phase I using the $150,000 grant, we were able to receive the $750,000 grant from NSF,” McNeil said. “It also includes another $650,000 that we can receive by meeting several milestones.”
The team plans to use the money to move the company beyond the pre-commercialization stage.
“We’re building our pilot facility with all of that funding. We’re scaling a chemical reactor, and we’ve got a centrifuge,” he said. “We’re bringing in a lot of very technical equipment that will be necessary to allow us to prove commercial feasibility of this operation.”
The company’s early success and its current growth has been possible thanks to assistance from Bauer College and the University of Houston, McNeil said.
“There was support from a financial perspective from different faculty that understood the ins and outs of early startup financials, raising capital and competing in these competitions,” he added. “Still to this day, we receive support not only from Bauer, but also the University of Houston, which has allowed us to work in the UH Innovation Center. It’s been an overwhelming amount of support.”
By Priscilla Aceves & Jessica Navarro