The following is a featured article from America’s SBDC Iowa’s Success Stories Archive.

How would you feel if you created a product that could change the reality of hundreds of thousands of individuals? Martin Gross and Zhiyou Wen did precisely that. As a graduate student at Iowa State University, Martin and his professor Dr. Wen invented a sustainable water treatment system that utilizes algae to remove pollutants in waste water. The byproduct resulting from their system is be sold as a sustainable fertilizer. After inventing the technology in 2012, Martin and Zhiyou founded Gross-Wen Technologies in March 2013.

“Our technology focuses on helping rural Iowa communities meet the new, more stringent, water standards at a fraction of the cost. Typical systems for a community of 2,000 people cost around $5 million while ours is only $2 million.” This system is truly revolutionary in allowing rural communities meet their water needs in a price range that is both affordable and feasible to them.

To help cement the foundations of his business, Martin visited Regional Director Ted Bair at America’s SBDC Iowa to learn how to best grow his business. He explained the SBDC helped him “save time while helping to push things along and make everything go so much smoother. Instead of zigzagging through, we had a straight path and the SBDC helped us stay focused and get everything done.”

Martin said the most surprising part of starting his own business was the amount of support they received in Ames between assistance from the ISU/SBDC and other centers such as the ISU Startup Factory, Ag Startup Engine and the Center for Crop Utilization and Research. “The people at the SBDC are great. I would encourage any new startup to go sit down with Ted or other individuals from the SBDC. They really accelerated what we are doing, the startup ecosystem in Iowa and particularly Iowa State University is outstanding.”

In the future, Martin hopes to scale throughout Iowa, then grow regionally and eventually become the #1 algae based wastewater treatment system in the United States.

For more information on Gross-Wen Technologies, please visit their website at

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