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Meet a CoMotion Labs member: MicroHAOPs

Written by Gretchen Musgrove / May 7, 2018

Curious about our startups?

Welcome to our blog series, ‘Meet a CoMotion Labs Member’. These posts offer a peek into the groundbreaking work CoMotion Labs startups do and why they do it here. Stay tuned for profiles on startups from each of our dedicated labs in IT, Life Sciences, and AR/VR.

Meet MicroHAOPs!

Who: Mark Benjamin, President and CEO; Nathan Cai, co-Founder and CTO; Al Vetrovs, Project Manager; Siamak Modarresi, Senior Engineer; Bolun Wang, Senior Engineer

Company: MicroHAOPs – We treat water better. Our mission is to develop more effective and less costly water treatment processes for both drinking water and wastewater.

What problem do you solve?  We solve three primary problems:

Removal of pollutants from water. We use new materials and process designs in systems that occupy less space, have lower costs, and use less energy than current technology.

Removal of organic matter from drinking water. We reduce the formation of toxic compounds that occur when water is disinfected and greatly reduce the energy needed to filter microorganisms out of the water

Removal of phosphorus from domestic and industrial wastewater. We protect receiving waters from over-fertilization and toxic algal blooms, and greatly reduce the volume of waste sludge generated, saving transportation and disposal costs.

Where: CoMotion Labs @ Fluke Hall

When: Company formed in late 2014. Received NSF STTR Phase I grant in 2015, SBIR Phase II grant and first angel funding in 2017. Tested pilot systems at UW in 2017 and early 2018, and now beginning onsite trials at venues around the world.

What’s the latest? We recently shipped a pilot system that is starting test operation at a water treatment outside of Oslo, Norway. We’re also building additional pilot systems for testing at the Brightwater (Wastewater) Treatment Plant in Woodinville, WA, at a water treatment plant in Ely, MN, and at wastewater plants in China. We also have a cooperative agreement to assist in pilot testing at a wastewater reuse facility in Singapore.

Startup advice: Have a clear goal toward which you’re working, but always be ready to pivot if a good new opportunity arises!

Why do you love CoMotion Labs?

The People. Elizabeth Scallon, Associate Director and Kira Franz, Fluke Hall Lab Manager are amazing resources. They know the startup world, including the challenges and pitfalls, and they’re always willing to help with advice, connections, and resources. Whatever the challenge, their response is never “We don’t do that”, but rather “Let’s figure out how to solve this!”

The Facilities. Through our CoMotion Labs membership we have access to a vast array of reasonably-priced resources both at CoMotion sites and across the UW campus that would otherwise be very difficult to find and even more difficult to pay for.

The Programs. The Fundamentals for Startups presentations during lunchtime on Fridays are incredibly valuable for getting broad information about startup life, and the Mentor Office Hours available with experts of all stripes allow us to get advice regarding more specific issues that our particular company is dealing with. And the food ain’t bad either.

Want in?

Apply to become a CoMotion Labs member.


About CoMotion Labs: CoMotion Labs, a self-sustaining membership-supported program of UW CoMotion, provides a multi-industry labs system hosting 90+ startups inside and outside the UW community. This incubator supports startups with learning programs, mentoring, networking, and space — in three locations across the UW Seattle campus and a virtual lab in Spokane — across a variety of industries including engineering, IT, life sciences, medical devices, clean tech, blockchain, AI and AR/VR.