By Robert Leitch
Although it may look like an ordinary freezer, Global Cooling’s Stirling Ultracold is a highly sophisticated piece of scientific equipment. Used by labs and medical centers across the country, it can maintain temperatures below –80 degrees Celsius (–112 degrees Fahrenheit). And while these temperatures are standard in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, the technology powering these freezers is not.
“Our cooling technology uses 60 percent less energy than the best competing freezer on the market,” said Global Cooling CEO Neill Lane. “It is also more reliable and environmentally responsible than competing freezers. The cost savings lets our customers put more money towards studying diseases and finding cures.”
Global Cooling’s top line revenue has doubled every year since the company began, and it is on track to double again by the end of 2015. Its primary customers are life science research facilities and pharmaceutical companies, where it is not uncommon to find thousands of ultracold freezers at work. The company is currently focusing all its efforts on developing lab freezers, but will likely apply its technology to other areas in the future, including household refrigeration, heat pumping and power generation.
Global Cooling, based in Athens, Ohio, received pre-seed funding from TechGROWTH Ohio in 2009, a southeast regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier. That’s also how Lane got involved with the company — he was an executive-in-residence for TechGROWTH and worked closely with Global Cooling on their business plan.
“At the time, Global Cooling had an innovative technology that could have been used in a number of new products,” said Lane. “We actually looked at about eight different applications in total, including a solar-powered refrigerator for use in the developing world, and a machine that would cool down computer servers to help them run faster.”
In the end, Lane and the company decided to create an ultracold freezer due to the right combination of a large market with big problems that needed to be addressed. They have a 50,000-square-foot facility in Athens, a deliberate move on the company’s part in an effort to create jobs in the area.
“Economic development was one of our key objectives,” he said. “This is an under-served part of the state and part of the country.”
Global Cooling has also received assistance from local and state governments, including loans, tax credits and an advanced energy grant from Ohio Third Frontier.
“I can’t say enough about the state of Ohio. We’ve received an enormous amount of help,” Lane said. “And for the kind of business we’re building, that help is absolutely critical.”