Niron Magnetics Expands its Board of Directors and Advisor Network Ahead of Commercialization Efforts for Rare-Earth Free Magnets

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Niron Magnetics, the company manufacturing the world’s first rare-earth free, high performance magnets, today announced the appointment of two new members to its Board of Directors, along with three executive advisors to support the firm’s rapid expansion.
These high-profile, experienced leaders have joined Niron to help the company commercialize its Clean Earth Magnet™ technology, as demand for magnets and rare earth alternatives soar. The growth in electric vehicle (EV) motor and wind turbine production are key demand drivers for magnets. Such applications are typically reliant solely on rare earth permanent magnets, which carry supply risks and are environmentally damaging. Niron’s technology offers a more cost-efficient and sustainable option to produce permanent magnets without rare earth materials and enable the long-term growth of a sustainable economy. The new members of the Niron Board of Directors include:
  • Steve Bullock: Mr. Steve Bullock served two terms as the governor of Montana from 2013-2021 and chaired the National Governors Association (NGA) from 2018-2019. He was a Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2020. Prior to serving as governor, Steve served as Montana Attorney General from 2009-2013, and was an attorney in private practice and the public sector from 1994-2009. He served as Chair of the Governors Wind and Solar Energy Coalition and was a Co-Chair of the Governors Partnership on Carbon Capture. Over the course of his career, Steve has advocated for investment in clean energy and to create jobs in fields that address climate change. As Governor he established the Montana Climate Solutions Council and joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. Steve received his B.A. degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) from Claremont McKenna College and his J.D. degree with honors from Columbia Law School.
  • Larry Burns, Ph.D.: Dr. Larry Burns served as General Motors Corporate Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning from 1998-2009, reporting to the CEO/President. He was a member of top decision boards for global operations and products and was responsible for advanced technology development and product portfolio planning. Larry expanded GM R&D to a global organization with science labs, science offices, and collaborative research labs located throughout the world. He also quadrupled the number of patents issued to GM researchers and increased intellectual property publications fivefold. Currently, Larry advises organizations on the future of mobility, logistics, manufacturing, energy and innovation. His current clients include Waymo, Kitson & Partners and Goodyear. He earned his B.S., in Mechanical Engineering from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), M.S. in Engineering and Public Policy from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of California Berkeley.
“Electric vehicle motors need strong magnets, and today this requires the use of rare earth materials,” said Larry Burns. “Niron Magnetics has innovated the Clean Earth Magnet, which promises to be higher performance, lower cost, and sustainable. This is a positive breakthrough across industries, and I’m delighted to be part of the team.” The new Niron executive advisors include:
  • Rick Wagoner: Rick Wagoner is the former President and CEO of General Motors, a role he held from 2000-2003, adding the role of Chairman from 2003 through 2009. Rick joined GM as an analyst in 1977 and by 1992, he was named GM’s chief financial officer. In 1994, he became executive vice president/president of North American Operations and was then named president and chief operating officer in 1998. After 32 years with GM, Rick retired in 2009. Since then, he has joined the boards of numerous companies, including ChargePoint Inc. a Silicon Valley company that makes electric vehicle charging stations. He received a BA in economics from Duke University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
  • Vice Admiral (Ret.) David Buss: David Buss is a retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy. His last assignment was as Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific in San Diego, a position also known as the Navy’s “Air Boss.” During his illustrious military career, Buss commanded at every level from Commander to Vice Admiral, serving in multiple jet squadrons and staff assignments. He is currently the CEO of OpenDrives, Inc., a Los Angeles-based data storage technology company. He previously served as President of Cubic Global Defense, Inc., a unit of Cubic Corporation, where he led all aspects of Cubic’s global military training business. Vice Admiral Buss earned his bachelor’s degree in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy and is a graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Training program.
  • Ga-Lane Chen, Ph.D.: Dr. Ga-Lane Chen is currently both the Chief Technology Officer and the Chief Investment Officer of Foxconn. He manages Foxconn’s global R&D and has also overseen the company’s investment in high tech companies including Invensense, GoPro, Berkeley Lights, Habana Labs (2.2 Billion merged by Intel). Dr. Chen holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the National Taiwan University and a Ph.D. in Materials Science/Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Chen holds 454 Granted U.S. Patents
“We are honored to welcome these industry veterans and technologists to the Niron team,” said Andy Blackburn, CEO of Niron Magnetics. “They each bring unique expertise and connectivity to help Niron establish new partnerships and to raise the profile of our technology within the automotive sector and beyond.” To learn more about Niron Magnetics and its Clean Earth Magnet™ technology, please visit About Niron Magnetics Niron Magnetics is developing the world’s first advanced manufacturing process for the mass production of permanent magnets powered by its breakthrough material formulation. Niron’s proprietary Iron nitride magnets possess inherently higher magnetization and can be produced at a lower cost compared to today’s rare-earth magnets and will enable a revolution in the design of new electric motors and generators. For more information, please visit


Kalyn Schieffer

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