Mississippi Development Authority awards grants to V-Quad competition winners

Jackson, Mississippi – September 7, 2021 – The winners of the “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition were announced recently in Ridgeland. The Mississippi Development Authority event, supported by the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy, is an opportunity for Mississippi innovators to showcase potential advancements in energy and agriculture technology.

“MDA congratulates the winners of these grants, and we look forward to the success of their projects,” said Dr. Sumesh Arora, Ph.D., director of MDA’s Energy and Natural Resources Division and V-Quad Team co-leader. “This next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs are an exciting look at the future of energy and agriculture technologies in Mississippi.”

MDA awarded a $7,500 grant to Magna Gold Oil of Meridian, whose pitch was focused on recycling roofing shingles. Magna Gold Oil has patented a process for recycling domestic asphalt waste roofing shingles (non-biodegradable) into a commercially useful and environment-friendly product that can be sold as a low-sulfur bunker fuel. A semi-automatic prototype has been developed in the laboratory and experimental data and testing and have been completed. Magna Gold Oil will be communicating with local and state economic partners/investors to determine a suitable location in Lauderdale County for its pilot scale fully automatic unit. The company will use this unit as a basis for scale-up and feasibility studies.

“It was an incredible experience, and we were blown away by the innovations that are happening across the State of Mississippi,” said Danny Russell, CEO of Magna Gold Oil. “As our team is currently scheduled to start the build out of our first commercially automated plant, we will be using the funds awarded to procure a site for our plant in Lauderdale County. Thank you again for believing in us, and we look forward to working with the MDA as we continue to grow our company.”

MDA also awarded $7,500 to a team of scientists from Mississippi State University that has patented a cost-effective process to produce biomass-based graphene nanomaterials using renewable and sustainable by-products from the wood product industry. Graphene significantly improves the properties of concrete, such as compressive strength, stiffness and durability that will result in significantly less cement used in the concrete manufacturing process. The team is taking advantage of the superior properties of graphene materials, which have the potential to help lower carbon emissions on a global scale while lowering the cost of graphene and concrete manufacturing, by using them as an enhancement ingredient for concrete.

“The experience has been great,” said MSU Professor Dr. Jilei Zhang. “The Mississippi V-Quad program provides our MSU startup team with great opportunities of watching educational video programs, networking, truly working together as a team, and obtaining funds from the V-Quad towards our venture.”

A grant of $10,000 was awarded to ConnectVNA of Jackson. ConnectVNA is creating a digital workflow via an online portal, synced with oil and gas business management software. The company is developing affordable and effective tools for upstream and midstream oil and gas companies to help them move to more seamless interactions with owners and stakeholders, vendors and employees by extending the appropriate enterprise resource planning system data to end users, moving to a genuine digital workflow. ConnectVNA is exploring other vertical niches with similar challenges, such as commercial construction, that can benefit greatly from its portal technology.

“V-Quad helped us at Connect refocus on our core value proposition and drove home the point for me that we need to be constantly listening to potential clients to better inform our path forward,” said ConnectVNA Managing Partner John Welch. “We very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the V-Quad bootcamp and the pitch competition. Many thanks to Sumesh and everyone at the Mississippi Development Authority involved with V-Quad.”

V-Quad is a partnership of private industry and public institutions with the goal of supporting Mississippi entrepreneurs launching businesses that focus on energy- and agriculture-related technologies. It is intended to connect public and private resources in Mississippi.

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