Make money by fighting climate change

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Michael Gurin wants to do his part to fight climate change. He also wants to earn money.

He knows the two are not mutually exclusive.

“Our mission is really to make sustainability and the circular economy profitable while doing good,” he says. “This is really the main thing. It cannot be altruistic, and it cannot depend on grants.”

Gurin, CEO of Glenview-based CogniTek, has worked on environmental products since the company was founded in 1989 with his brother Brian, who has since left the company.

His work developing his own technology as well as licensing other work resulted in the split of five companies from CogniTek with revenues of around $ 10 million and around 50 employees.

“A lot of the work that we do goes through the strategic partnership, so it’s really about taking the technology, advancing the technology and then having strategic partners, so it’s not necessarily heavy on the side. staff, ”he says.

The pandemic and the associated lockdown have not slowed down CogniTek at all. In fact, Gurin says CogniTek has had “our best year by far.”

And although Gurin has loved keeping CogniTek out of the spotlight all these years – “stealth mode,” he calls it – those days are gone. Due to the urgency of tackling climate change and the technologies he currently has, Gurin is looking for investors.

“The technologies are at the point where they’re ready to evolve in a very, very significant way,” he says, adding that he recently had conversations with companies in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, all of which are interested in the deployment of advanced technologies by CogniTek.

It is at this point that he reminds you that it is not just about being a benefactor.

“The only reason you can develop them so quickly is that they are actually significantly more profitable than the alternatives,” he says.

Its technologies no longer need government subsidies to compete with fossil fuels. They have “turned this corner”.

He also recruits, mainly technical positions but also on the commercial development side.

“We don’t do basic research,” he says. “We are post-fundamental research. Most of what we do is engineering and application development as opposed to basic research. We are therefore more the development part than the research part. But we work with, and especially when we license technology, we work with the different institutions, and they continue to do research. “

Its benefits are varied, but always in favor of the environment.

There’s the Akron, Ohio-based company that transforms waste heat from industrial processes to generate electricity.

A California company converts agricultural and forestry product waste into biofuels, specialty chemicals and now artificial cellulosic textiles.

Another company is working with the CBD industry, turning hemp waste into composites to serve the automotive, construction, and consumer products industries.

A technology recently licensed from Florida State University is making a biodegradable and biorenewable plastic called Plastiq that will compete directly with fossil fuel plastics.

“We hope people care about climate change and the environment,” says Gurin, “but the reality is, for example, on some of these biofuels and biodegradable plastic, both will compete head-on with fossil fuels on the price plan And therefore it is effectively profitable.

“There’s no premium associated with the products we’re talking about. And that’s really the key to the technologies we work with.”

Technical discussion (jobs)

U.S. tech companies continued to add employees in May, and the search for new tech talent returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis by CompTIA, the Downers Grove-based nonprofit for the the information technology industry and workforce.

U.S. tech companies added 10,500 jobs in May, a combination of technical and non-technical positions, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This has made six consecutive months of increased tech jobs and growth of over 61,000 jobs so far in 2021.

Still, there were plenty of jobs available, according to May reports. The most in-demand jobs are software and application developers, IT support specialists, system engineers and architects, IT project managers and system analysts, according to CompTIA.

One more thing. The latest jobs report showed a loss of 78,000 IT jobs, with an unemployment rate for IT occupations of 2.4% in May, about half the national labor market rate of 5.5% .

“Strong employer hiring activity for technology positions coupled with occupation-level job loss suggests a disconnect,” said Tim Herbert, executive vice president of research and market intelligence at CompTIA, in a press release. “However, it is not uncommon for factors such as timing of hiring or an increase in the number of workers seeking new employment opportunities to affect short-term labor market data.”

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