SunScience sets focus on clean-room grow system
SunScience Corp. has spent the better part of five years creating monitoring systems that manage the heating and cooling systems of high-rise office buildings or remote greenhouses filled with tomato plants.
Now the Reno-based company wants to take the technology a step farther, combining its monitoring-and-control systems with clean-room technology to create indoor-agriculture systems that are free of contaminants.
Richard Kelsey, the president of SunScience, has assembled a new management team, and they’re busy with presentations to potential investors as well as future customers.
The company is looking to raise $500,000 from investors this summer, and it plans to raise another $1.5 million this autumn.
SunScience has developed numerous applications for systems that combine green power — usually solar photovoltaic panels — with building-control systems.
It created a sophisticated energy-control system for the Airport Gardens office building along Interstate 580 in central Reno. It developed a self-contained system to bring communications and water-purification systems to disaster areas.
And, more to the immediate point, it developed the environmental controls that allowed a Lovelock farmer to get a couple of extra tomato crops a year from a greenhouse operation that optimized water usage, temperature and soil conditions.
The next step in the evolution of SunScience came as Kelsey joined forces with Anne Marie Dixon, a Carson City consultant with more than 35 years experience in the management of clean rooms.
Kelsey and Dixon have developed a small prototype of a self-contained hydroponic growing system that they’re testing at Tripp Plastics, the contract manufacturing operation in Sparks.
Tripp Plastics is set to be the manufacturer of the SunScience indoor-growing system.
Dixon says multiple markets are emerging for agricultural products grown in closely controlled environments free of contamination.
Among them: The nation’s 35,000 nutraceutical firms, traditional pharmaceutical manufacturers who use botanical products and marijuana growers that meet the needs of medicinal and recreational users.
Then, too, Dixon says the company will target farmers who grow herbs, leafy greens and other vegetable crops. In some instances, she says farmers will be able to use the system to harvest 10 crops a year using far less water than traditional farming techniques.
The new executive team also includes Kim Heathman as vice president of marketing, Larry Haskell, as vice president of agriculture systems and Andy Cauthen as chief financial officer.
The rate effective Jan. 1, 2020, is 1.65 percent of wages paid to employees. That is two-tenths of a percent lower than the current rate, giving a significant break to businesses that pay the tax.