The Boston Globe’s weekly Ocean State Innovators column features a Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting groundbreaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy. Send tips and suggestions to reporter Alexa Gagosz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Zero-emission electric seagliders manufactured in Rhode Island are one step closer to reaching the commercial market where they’ll be transporting people and cargo across waterways.
REGENT Craft announced last week it raised a $60 million round of venture funding, striking a partnership with Japan Airlines to try to figure out a way to bring the company’s flying electric ferries to Japan’s waterways.
The company, which is backed by billionaire investor Mark Cuban and is headquartered at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, plans on flying a full flight crew on their full-scale prototype sometime in 2024. Regent has raised a total of $90 million to date, according to CEO and co-founder Billy Thalheimer, who is from Natick, Massachusetts.
Last year, REGENT partner Moore Brothers Company in Bristol built a quarter-scale prototype and completed test runs of the seagliders on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay to prove the aircraftcould “float, foil and fly.” These battery-powered seagliders are meant to hover across waterways, just about 10 feet above the surface of the water.
The company already has customers that include ferry companies and airlines around the world. As the Globe has previously reported, REGENT plans to certify, manufacture, and deliver its seagliders to customers about “a year or two” after their full prototype testing, with a crew, that’s planned for 2024.
REGENT isn’t the only company making waves in Quonset.
Also earlier this month, General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a $967 million contract from the US Navy to assist in its development of Virginia-class fast-attack submarines over the next year. Funds are being dispersed to Electric Boat’s auxiliary shipyard in Quonset Point, in Newport, among other outposts.
Here are more innovative tech and manufacturing leaders to watch in Rhode Island.
CLARKE VALVE: Clarke Valve has created the Dilating Disk, a valve that could help prevent methane from leaking and causing atmospheric damage, keeping hydrocarbons within their pipeline. Why this matters? Leaky valves, according to the EPA, are responsible for 60 percent of all oil and gas emissions in the piping systems of oil and gas facilities. CEO Kyle Daniels spoke to the Globe about how this technology could become the industry standard. Read the Q&A here.
POLARIS MEP: After a nationwide search, Matt Watson was hired this spring as the new center director of Polaris MEP, one of the most vital organizations in the state when it comes to boosting the growth of the manufacturing sector. He spoke to the Globe about how to strengthen Rhode Island’s blue economy, and further expand the its advanced materials and textile industry. Read the Q&A here.
MOSS PURE: Jamie Mitri recently founded Moss Pure, a patent-pending design for living moss art and walls scraps that doesn’t require maintenance or upkeep. With a background in engineering and environmental compliance, Mitri said the moss acts as a natural air filter that could provide therapeutic relief in indoor and outdoor settings by capturing 42 percent of carbon dioxide and 1.5 million pollutants within 2 minutes, which include dust, allergens, volatile organic compounds, metals, and certain bacteria. Read the Q&A here.