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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tours FloDesign

Date: 7/2/2015

WILBRAHAM – United States Sen. Elizabeth Warren emphasized a need for the federal government to fund scientific research during a tour of FloDesign, which is currently exploring new technological applications for acoustic filtration.

The company is also the recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Army for several of its projects.

“We invest in research because that creates the pipeline of ideas that lets businesses like this turn it into the new inventions of the future and to build the new jobs for all of us ... Right now the fight in Washington, if you’ve seen the [Congressman Paul] Ryan budget, is over whether to make small cuts to research or bigger cuts to research,” Warren said.

“We can’t keep doing that,” she continued. “There was a time where year after year America invested more and more in basic research – in scientific research, in medical research, in engineering research, and today we’re heading in the opposite direction.”

If this trend continues, the “pipeline will shrink and eventually dry up,” Warren said.

NIH funding has decreased nationally by 25 percent during the last 20 years, she noted.

“Today, young people cannot get their projects funded,” Warren said. “I talked to someone at [the University of] Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School not long ago and he said he was competing to hang onto a young researcher and who was he competing with? He was competing with a foreign country.”

Stanley Kowalski III, chairman and a founder of FloDesign, said the process of acoustic filtration entails separating containment particles via ultrasound waves.

Walter Presz, founder and senior fellow at FloDesign, told Reminder Publications the most promising technology that’s being researched by the company is acoustic filtration, which can be applied to medical practices, environmental clean ups, and even as way, in part, to cure cancer.

“It has applications in numerous areas that can really affect society and make it better,” he added. “From health issues, solving cancer problems, cleaning fracking ponds, reducing and getting oil out of water with oil spills and also even things like burning cleaner. We can use the filters on coal stacks to filter out material.”

Within the past couple years, scientists have found that cancer cells are different genetically from person to person, Presz said.

“We’ve already isolated cancer cells from blood using acoustics,” he added. “It’s going to allow the doctor to isolate the cancer cells that that person is carrying and look at it and see how it’s affected by different drugs.”

One of the biggest demands in the future is going to be for clean water, he noted.

“We can use the same thing to clean water in countries where you just can’t find clean water anymore,” Presz said.

FloDesign is an incubator company founded 25 years ago out of Western New England University, Kowalski said. Other businesses that have emerged during the past several decade have been in fields such as wind power and aerospace.  

“The first application we had was in 1998 where we put a suppressor on the Gulfstream aircraft to quiet the jets on the aircraft,” he added.

Presz, who was Kowalski’s professor at Western New England University when the company began, said FloDesign currently has 25 summer interns from colleges such as Western New England University and UMass Amherst. At the end of the summer, the company would likely “hire a good chunk of them.”