Taking it to the Next Level: CEO of NextPotential on Scaling Up at KAUST

Relocating to KAUST has a number of advantages for top-quality start­ups from around the world.

Companies can immediately benefit from KAUST’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, including access to the Research and Technology Park, industry engagement, Innovation Fund and Entrepreneurship Center programs that help them further develop their products.

One company that appreciates these strategically connected offerings is NextPotential and its Co-Founder and CEO Duncan Hoffman.

The company was founded in January 2014 and received seed funding from Arizona State University. It won numerous clean energy competitions across the United States and received valuable mentorship from Gordon McConnell, who now manages KAUST’s Entrepreneurship Center.

NextPotential is a waste-to-fuel clean energy company. When its patented photocatalytic technology is activated by sunlight, it converts water vapor and carbon dioxide into methane gas and oxygen. By essentially turning pollution into energy, this technology has obvious benefits for carbon dioxide emitters in the cement, ethanol fermentation, wastewater and various other industries.

Working with KAUST’s Innovation Fund and its Manager, Nicola Bettio, Hoffman would like to develop a pilot plant at KAUST.  He was recently provided with an opportunity to see KAUST facilities first hand while attending Arabian Tech Tour 2015. Bettio mentioned that efforts are underway at KAUST to develop a syndicate to invest in the company.

“I am deeply impressed by KAUST’s facilities and the level of trust between innovators,” Hoffman told KAUST Innovation. “It is a one-stop shop that has been completely purpose built. People are used to building things together and having the necessary equipment to get things done.”

In five years’ time, Hoffman would like to see NextPotential scaling up into manufacturing and exporting to key markets in Asia and the European Union.

“KAUST would be the best location in the world for us to further develop our technology,” added Hoffman. “It is an ideal destination for industrial large-scale technologies.”