The technology to carry America’s energy grid into the 21st century might be born behind a hamburger joint in Old Town Goleta.
That’s where LaunchPoint Technologies keeps its stable of 20 engineers working on a range of projects, from a giant ring that could use electricity and magnets to fling satellites into space to tiny artificial heart pumps for infants. One of the firm’s technologies, a flywheel designed to store electricity and help smooth out the electric grid, has just received an initial $97,000 grant from the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research program.
Founded in 1992, LaunchPoint makes its living from four revenue streams: engineering consulting work, grants, venture capital and fees it gets for the intellectual property it has spun out. The firm has about 50 patents and wins about 50 percent of the grants it applies for. It’s also incubated companies such as Inogen, a Santa Barbara firm whose device can concentrate oxygen from air to replace the oxygen tanks used by patients with diseases such as emphysema.