Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who led NATO's 1999 campaign in Serbia and is now a military analyst for CNN, was named chairman of the board yesterday by WaveCrest Laboratories LLC, a three-year-old Dulles technology company that is developing a new kind of electric motor.
"They asked for some strategic assistance, and that's what I do," Clark said. Aside from his television duties, Clark is chairman and chief executive of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a business consultancy based in Little Rock, and serves on the boards of directors of Messer-Griesheim, Acxiom Corp. and Sirva Corp. Clark said he expects to spend about a quarter of his time on this new venture.
WaveCrest has developed an electric motor that the company says is more adaptive and efficient than traditional electric propulsion systems because of computer monitoring of how the motor performs and technology that adapts the motor's settings to different environments.
The start-up is backed by technology entrepreneur Allen Andersson, whose company, LightSpeed International, was bought by Cisco Systems Inc. in 1998 for about $160 million in stock. Andersson's backing has helped the company create a first version of the WaveCrest motor, a one-horsepower model that will be available in bicycles later this summer, Clark said.
A 24-horsepower version of the motor has been developed, and even more powerful models are in the works for applications including wheelchairs and electric cars.
The motor can be designed "into the kind of doughnut shape that Detroit has been looking for for years," Clark said. "This fits in the wheel of a car."
Clark said he will work on most of the issues WaveCrest is facing as it changes from a technology-development firm into a company that has technology to sell. Those issues will include how to manufacture the motor, sell it and raise money to fund operations.
"There are a number of key strategic questions to answer," he said.