The first result of InnovationWorks was unveiled to West Michigan this morning during a meeting held at The Right Place Inc. InnovationWorks is a regional program developed in part by The Right Place to accelerate the commercialization of original products, processes and services in West Michigan.
SelectAFlush, a green technology startup firm, revealed its namesake product, which gives the consumer two toilet-flushing options — one that uses the normal amount of water and another that cuts the amount of water used in half. The SelectAFlush product can be applied to any toilet and moderates the amount of water dispersed by adjusting how the handle is used.
“What we’ve invented is a dual-flush conversion kit,” said John Bauer, vice president of SelectAFlush and uncle of the inventor, David Bauer. “Basically, you push (the lever) to the outside of the tank and you get half a flush. It’s enough to break the trap and take some light tissue with it. If you push it toward the inside of the tank, when you use the full flush option, you do not reduce the efficiency of the toilette as it was initially designed.”
The product took about 10 months of research and development to bring to market. During that time, the product and business plan were revised several times. Bauer said InnovationWorks helped streamline the process and bring the product to market more quickly and with fewer mistakes.
“They provided us with very valuable research,” said Bauer.
InnovationWorks was excited to see what Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., called the “perfect product and the perfect launch.” The product captures some West Michigan traits, such as sustainability and the desire and determination to keep production in West Michigan.
“It’s a great test case, actually,” said Klohs. “They are the perfect prototype of what InnovationWorks is meant to do. These guys had a napkin drawing of an idea and they saw it all the way through to being made in a relatively short period of time. What InnovationWorks provides is that one-stop shopping for assistance, so you don’t get lost on the road to your commercialization.”
The product is a “perfect storm” said Bauer. The water technology industry is consistently growing by approximately 10 percent each year. The industry totaled an estimated $300 billion in revenues worldwide in 2003. In 2006, $1.5 billion was invested in water technology-related research and development in the U.S. alone.
“What we’ve effectively done here is create a perfect storm product,” said Bauer. “All of these issues came together into this one product: made in Michigan, water-saving device, inexpensive, easy to install, using local resources — of which I’m so grateful.”
The product retails for $24.95 and is expected to bring a return on investment after one year. SelectAFlush has already sold 500 units and will begin shipping on Nov. 1.
More information on the product is available at www.selectaflush.com