After struggling to raise money in Australia and lured by a $26 million grant from the Canadian government, Turbocor moved to Montreal in 2000, relocating 20 of its 24 employees.
The business was sold to joint venture partner Danfoss in 2013.
Mr Conry returned to Melbourne at the beginning of the pandemic to work on his next venture, Conry Tech, with co-founder Sam Ringwaldt, who worked at Turbocor in the early 2000s, and was tasked with taking the new compressor to market.
Conry Tech has developed and patented a new modular airconditioning system that can be retrofitted into commercial buildings to cut energy bills by 40 per cent.
Traditionally, airconditioning systems have relied on a centralised plant, using chillers and boilers to cool and heat an entire building.
Conry Tech has developed micro units, called BullAnts, which can be spread out throughout a building, providing more targeted heating and cooling without wasting energy.
“We believe on average the building will save about 40 per cent of the building’s power bill by installing our new airconditioning system,” Mr Ringwaldt said.
Mr Conry said they believe they have the right technology at the right time, as well as a track record that they didn’t have 20 years ago.
“We are foolishly patriotic. It would have been much easier to have stayed in America and raise money than to come back here. But the family is here and we have personal reasons to be here,” he said.
Low-hanging fruit of energy transition
While much of the focus has been on generating more renewable energy, Mr Ringwaldt said energy conservation and energy efficiency were the “low-hanging fruit in the clean energy transition”.
“You can cut far more demand off the grid significantly cheaper than you could by just adding more renewables [supply]. The focus at the moment in the market seems to be ‘let’s just add more renewables’ – but at the same time, let’s slash how much energy we are using.”
The co-founders have raised a seed round from their network in the global airconditioning sector, received a $3 million Cooperative Research Centres Project grant, and are making use of R&D tax incentives.
Conry Tech is in the process of raising more.
“We are trying to keep it very lean,” Mr Ringwaldt said. “With Turbocor, we ended up having to spend about $146 million bringing that to market, and that required a lot of dilution.”