Midland startup to commercialize industrial water filtration technology

Here in the Great Lakes Bay Region, we’re surrounded by freshwater. Water is an integral part of our lives.

However, 40% of the world’s population now faces water scarcity. And, by 2030, global water requirements are projected to be 40% greater than the current supply, according to a 2009 report from McKinsey & Company.

Scott Burr is the President and CEO of Accelerated Filtration. He is one of three founders.But there’s a new Midland startup working to meet growing water needs with their technology.
“If you look at where the water treatment industry was from a technology perspective from 2009 until today, we haven’t come out with any really groundbreaking methods or tools in treating water,” says Scott Burr, founder and CEO of Accelerated Filtration, an industrial water filtration startup company. “There’s a few, but nothing of the magnitude I believe we need to solve the water scarcity problem we’re facing due to population growth and climate change.”

Their AFX filter is designed to remove fine particles from dirty water streams without chemicals. The goal is to filter high volumes of water cost-effectively. The filter can also enable the discharge of cleaner wastewater.

“It doesn’t matter if the river is relatively clear one day and muddy the next,” says Burr, “it can handle it and provide a stable and efficient solution regardless of what the starting point is.”

Burr and the other founders, John Mallard and Keith Kauffmann, all have experience with Dow. It was during Burr’s 20+ years there that he first worked with this technology, when Dow Chemical purchased Clean Filtration Technologies around 2010. After the DowDuPont spin-off, DuPont held the filtration technology patents. Burr spent nine months acquiring those patents from DuPont.

“DuPont wanted the technology in the hands of people who knew what to do with it,” says Burr. “They wanted us to be successful, and they wanted upside (the potential increase in value of an investment) as well. It was a win-win for everybody.”

Right now, Accelerated Filtration is working toward commercializing its product.

Can you spot the "Easter Eggs" in this logo? There’s the obvious water droplet; the horizontal lines represent movement of water. See the “A” for Accelerated and the “F” for Filtration with a curling tail showing filtration with a vortex pattern?“We’re currently converting our optimized design into production-capable parts with our manufacturing partners to produce robust, reliable parts that enable a cost-effective and successful product,” says Burr.

And Accelerated Filtration is keeping that economic value right here in Midland.

“We will be a Midland-based company. Our headquarters will be here as well as our manufacturing capabilities,” says Burr. “If we hit our business plan, we’ll bring 25-30 jobs to the area.”

All of their suppliers will be in Michigan, too.

“One of the beautiful parts about being in Michigan is we have such a rich manufacturing and technology base to draw from,” says Burr. “Everything we need, we have multiple partners to choose from. It’s a great state to build technology companies and advanced manufacturing-based companies.”

Accelerated Filtration awarded Business Accelerator Fund from CMURC

Accelerated Filtration isn’t doing this on their own; Central Michigan University Research Corp. (CMURC) and the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) were awarded a Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) for nearly $30,000 on behalf of Accelerated Filtration. This money will help them create their first production-intent filter.

BAF’s funding funnels from the Michigan Strategic Fund. It’s intended for high-tech companies at their earliest stages. 

Erin Strang is the President and CEO of CMURC.“The purpose is to engage third-party specialists to help advance the company and the client’s path to commercialization for company success,” says Erin Strang, president and CEO of CMURC. “Ultimately, we apply on the behalf of the company, the funds are received, and the dollar goes out to these specialized services, and the company then benefits from that work being done to help them out.”

CMURC is a 501(3)(c) professional coworking space with accelerator programs. They focus on product and strategic development for entrepreneurs to positively impact the East Central Michigan Prosperity Region.

“Collectively, we try and create an inclusive environment with various backgrounds and different disciplines to really move the needle and push some companies forward,” says Strang.

Starting nearly 20 years ago, CMURC, located in Mt. Pleasant, became the first SmartZone in Michigan. A SmartZone facilitates programs on behalf of the state and must consist of a university, a community of researchers, and an accelerator, or a business that supports startups.

“The idea was to create this sense of place — to create these pockets of excellence around innovation,” says Strang. 

John Mallard is a founder and the CFO/COO of Accelerated Filtration.In 2017, CMURC opened their Bay City location; in 2018, Saginaw, and in March 2020, the Midland location opened.

“We’re fairly new to doing work in Midland and we’ve only been there during the COVID phase,” says Strang. “I’m excited that some of our accelerator programs and companies like Accelerated Filtration,  we’ve been able to move them forward.”

CMURC works with startups in putting together a 5-page executive summary around their business model. They identify gaps and challenges and assist the companies in building their best business case and foundation. 

“We’re here to help them build a solid business foundation that will then lead toward their sustainability,” says Strang. “And really try to just encourage homegrown experts to build business that then leads toward investment, careers with high wage jobs, and really to stabilize the local economy.” 

Keith Kauffmann is a founder and the VP of Engineering at Accelerated Filtration.In the SmartZone framework, the Midland Business Alliance is Midland’s accelerator.

“Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is crucial for the growth and vibrancy of any community,” says Tony Stamas, president and CEO of MBA. “We are thrilled that Accelerated Filtration Inc. has made Midland its home with game-changing technology that will have a positive impact on the entire Great Lakes Bay Region.”
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Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala is a freelance writer with a focus on health and science. As a lifelong resident of the Tri-Cities, she loves sharing how our communities are overcoming challenges. Crystal is also a serial hobbyist — her interests range from hiking or drawing to figuring out how to do a handstand. Her work can be seen in Wide Open Eats, The Xylom, Woman & Home, and The Detroit Free Press. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.