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Updated: August 16, 2021 / 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021

40 Under Forty 2021: Sean Kelly

Photo | Erika Sidor Sean Kelly
Photo | Erika Sidor 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021 members (from left) David Ginisi, Aaron Birt, Lisa Malo and Sean Kelly at Redemption Rock Brewing Co. in Worcester (Special thanks to Redemption Rock Brewing Co.)
Sean Kelly, 28
  • Title Co-founder & chief operating officer
  • Company Solvus Global, LLC, in Worcester, Leominster & Webster
  • Residence Shrewsbury
  • Birthplace Worcester
  • College Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Click here to read about the other 40 Under Forty, Class of 2021
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Sean Kelly, a three-time Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduate with a PhD in material science and engineering, helped grow his company from two to 36 employees in less than four years, as well as expand from a 1,000-square-foot operation to a 48,000-square-foot operation across three locations, all in Central Mass.

The company provides manufacturing technology solutions, including machine learning and sustainable materials processing. Integral to Solvus, he helped convert the company’s first Small Business Innovative Research grant with the National Science Foundation from a $250,000 phase I to a $1-million phase II grant, significantly expanding its funding, and focusing on developing a scrap recycling optimization tool based on research Kelly completed as part of his graduate and doctoral studies. Within Solvus, Kelly helped launch a mentoring program connecting senior staff members with junior staff members, who are then guided and mentored within the organization, providing those newer folks with structure and support, both personal and professional. Outside of work, Kelly is an active member of the WPI alumni community, hosting fundraisers for the Brain Injury Association of Mass., the WPI baseball program, and animal shelters around the region.

What world record would you like to have? The fastest mile. I chased it for a while but really never got close: 5:15, so off by 1:30.

How do you define success? How well you create opportunities and enable others to succeed.

What Central Mass. community is best? Worcester. It’s culturally diverse with a history to learn from and an exciting future. My roots are there, too, from preschool to small business.

What message would you now give to your 10-year-old self? Slow down and enjoy the ride. Reflect and learn but don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect.

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