NEXUS-NY Invests in the Brightest Clean Energy Scientists, Engineers and Entrepreneurs
It’s kickoff for nine new research teams joining the NEXUS-NY seed accelerator. From computer scientists to aeronautical engineers, Cohort 3 members have now started their journey to develop clean energy solutions that will accelerate the pace of energy innovation.
NEXUS-NY empowers New York energy researchers with funding, business assistance and market readiness support. Through meaningful proof-of-concept prototypes and customer interaction, over the next 10 months each team will seek to transform their research-derived innovations into companies that solve big problems for real customers.
Starting with two full days of intensive workshops and presentations, Cohort 3 teams gathered in Rochester to present themselves to each other, hear from past NEXUS-NY participants and begin defining their customers, business problems and solutions.
“It’s exciting to see a bunch of new teams enter the program,” said NEXUS-NY Associate Director Allison Yacci. “This week they’ll dive right into value proposition, customer discovery and market sizing.”
This year’s research teams include one scientific advisor who has already won a prestigious ARPA-E award. Cohort 2016 also encompasses a few universities that have previously not participated in the program before, such as Clarkson University, University at Buffalo and Alfred State College.
“We received applications from almost every major research university in the state,” said NEXUS-NY Founding Executive Director Doug Buerkle. “The quality of talent is outstanding, and you’ll see many participants in Cohort 3 representing universities new to the program.”
Each of these research teams join the NEXUS-NY program with a technical lead and entrepreneurial lead. Here’s a recap of the top researchers from across New York.
Ducted Wind Turbine – Clarkson University
Optimized ducted wind turbine that uses a slotted duct system to augment the wind flow, increasing the efficiency of the turbine rotor.
Technical Lead: Ken Visser, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering and Director of the Center of Sustainable Energy Systems at Clarkson University. He completed his PhD at the University of Notre Dame. Following a research appointment at NASA Langley, he worked at the Boeing Aircraft Company, involved in development and design aspects of two aircrafts: the High Speed Civil Transport and the 767-400ER. Other activities include helping in the design of the America’s Cup Team 2000, AmericaOne and working with Fairchild Dornier Aircraft Germany. Visser currenting teaches senior aircraft design and performance courses at Clarkson, and is the AIAA faculty student advisor. His research interests are primarily experimental, focusing on applied aerodynamics and renewable energy concepts, including wind turbine design optimization, drag reduction of ground vehicles and design methodologies for aircraft wing tips.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Amelia Brown, MBA ‘16 candidate at Clarkson University. Focused on international studies, and having traveled to places such as Northern Ireland and Southern Sudan, Brown is now committed to impacting the world with change. She is also the Fundraising Chair for the Graduate Business Association at Clarkson, and was recently awarded the Ryan Larsen Memorial Prize. This award represents Brown’s philosophical curiosity, creativity, compassion and spiritual inquiry.
Hydrogen Producing Nanomaterials – University at Buffalo
Water-reacted and organic nanomaterials that can split water and produce hydrogen from mobile electricity generation using fuel cells.
Technical Lead: Parham Rohani, Chemical and Biological Engineering PhD candidate at University at Buffalo. Rohani’s research focuses on synthesis and application of nanoparticles prepared via a laser-induced pyrolysis of gas mixtures. The prepared and post-processed nanoparticles can be used in various applications, including on-demand hydrogen generation from water, which he will explore further as part of NEXUS-NY. Rohani has also worked at Mark Swihart’s Colloidal and Aerosol Nanomaterials Laboratory (CANlab) since 2012, and has three published works.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Naeim Khanjani, MBA ‘17 candidate of the University at Buffalo. Khanjani’s mission is to influence the world in an encouraging and insightful way. He has already received an Academic Excellence in Research award for “The New Way of Transactions in the Future, Research in New Digital Currencies (BitCoin).” Khanjani is also involved in LeaderCORE, a two-year leadership development program to enhance core management competencies, and he’s an Associate at WealthCFO Payroll and Work Force Management in Buffalo. In 2016, Khnajani received the Entrepreneurship Fellowship Award from the University at Buffalo School of Management.
Economic and Anaerobic Digestion
Increase the biogas generation and organic loading base of anaerobic digesters while simultaneously producing high value end products.
Technical Lead: Fred Agyeman, Graduate of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) with a degree in Environmental Resource Engineering and MPS Environmental Management. Agyeman is a USA EPA P3 award winner and SUNY-ESF Graduate Assistant. His published works include research on anaerobic co-digestion of food waste, which he will continue to develop in the 10 months with NEXUS-NY.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Michael Amadori, MS in Ecological Engineering from SUNY-ESF. As the Founder and CEO of Full Circle Feed, Amadori’s entrepreneurial efforts involve sustainably produced dog treats that result in happy dogs and a cleaner planet. By recycling unused food from restaurant buffets before it goes to a landfill, Full Circle Feed prevents the release of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. The process also reduces the environmental impact in treat production by reusing the already prepared food instead of having to grow, harvest, produce and transport new ingredients.
Membrane Heat Pumps – SUNY Alfred State
Membrane heat pump technology that provides latent and sensible cooling in a single device and without hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants.
Technical Lead: Jon P. Owejan, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology at SUNY Alfred State. Owejan is a former employee of the General Motors Electrochemical Energy Research Laboratory. He has served as principal investigator for energy research projects sponsored by the US Department of Energy and National Institute of Standards and Technology. In addition to these accomplishments, Owejan has published over 40 papers and holds 29 patents related to novel energy systems. He is also the founder of the Energy Storage Conversion (ESC) lab at Alfred State where his research is focused on energy conversion devices, including membrane heat pumps.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Steven Wood, Assistant Director of Innovative Services at SUNY RF. In addition to his work with the Research Foundation for SUNY where he provides services to 23 SUNY agriculture, technology and comprehensive campuses, Wood is a Startup Business Consultant and Intellectual Property Attorney. He is also the Co-Founder, and IP Consultant for trakkies, a Netherland-based startup connecting people, places and objects with intelligent systems. He holds an Advanced LL.M in Air and Space Law from the Leiden University Law School, and has received several awards, including the Brookhaven National Laboratory Spotlight Award.
Microbial Fuel Cells – Ǝnergy SP
Ǝnergy SP has invented a novel class 4th generation Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) that are compartment-free. These MFCs are completely scalable, require no interphase membranes or catalysts and can be made at significantly lower cost than the current state-of-the-art 3rd generation MFCs.
Technical Lead: Jose Lozano, Ph.D. in Biology and Ecological Physiology from Cornell University, a former Scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute, and currently is Lab Director at Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility. Lozano has over 20 years of experience, and more than 10 industry publications, including an impact study on Effluent and Lake Phosphorus Results, supporting the significant and positive effect on both the performance of the wastewater plant and on the water quality of southern Cayuga Lake. He has recently received an additional award from the Water Resources Institute to expand a pilot study on environmental threats to Ithaca’s wastewater treatment system. Lozano is in the process of commercializing his Microbial Fuel Cells with Co-Founder Adrian Cosma, in NEXUS-NY’s Cohort 3.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Adrian Cosma, has an MBA from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. He has more than 8 yrs. of business experience including 5 yrs. on Wall Street, and currently is the Director of Corporate Relations at Simon Business School. He is responsible for developing new, and maintaining existing relationships with alumni and multinational corporations. Cosma was involved in a prior successful start-up and recently he helped co-found the New York Medical Angels (NYMA), an Upstate New York seed stage investor group for life science and healthcare startups.
Indoor Modular Climate Control – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Modular Indoor Micro-Climate Control (MIMiC) Technology is novel modular and scalable building panel systems that delivers localized, switchable, on demand radiant heating or cooling where and when needed. This results in significant energy savings, a healthier indoor environment and increased occupant comfort.
Technical Lead: Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc, Professor and Associate Head for Graduate Studies of the Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering (MANE) Department at RPI. Dr. Borca-Tasciuc holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA. He received the NSF CAREER award (2004), and is an associate editor for the Journal of Nanomaterials. Borca-Tasciuc is also a member of the ASME’s K8 committee on Fundamentals of Heat Transfer and K9 committee on Nanoscale Thermal Transport.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Berardo Matalucci, PhD student, Center of Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) at RPI. Matalucci specializes in user-driven design strategy for the development of next-generation building technologies. He was awarded Europe 40 UNDER 40 2012 Emerging Young Architects and Designers. Prior to joining CASE, he worked in Europe and the United States, and he co-founded ‘echomaterico‘, an internationally awarded collective for design and architecture.
Efficient Photobioreactor for Algae-Based Fuel & Semiconductor Nanomaterials for Capturing Conversion – Cornell University
New for 2016, NEXUS-NY is piloting a way for university researchers to test the commercial potential of their research without fully participating in the program’s rigorous process. Instead, the selected researchers will spend 1-2 hours per week providing scientific advisory support to entrepreneurs recruited by NEXUS-NY. The first year pilot resulted in a combined team, which is looking at two technologies from Cornell University separately and in combination.
The first technology is high-density photobioreactor which optimizes light and Co2 delivery for efficient generation of algae. This technology delivers sunlight efficiently through low-cost, plastic, light-guiding sheets to increase efficiency and decrease water use compared to conventional algae reactors.
The second involves a hybrid organic/inorganic nanofluid with the combined capabilities of CO2 capture and photocatalytic CO2 reduction.
Scientific Advisor: David Erickson, Associate Professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. His research focuses on mobile and global health technology, microfluidics, photonics and nanotechnology. Erickson’s research has been funded by grants from NSF, NIH, ARPA-E, ONR, DOE and DARPA. He has also co-founded 3 companies commercializing smartphone enabled medical diagnostics, global health technologies and high-throughput nanoparticle analysis instrumentation. Among his several awards, in 2011 Erickson received the Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE) by President Obama. He holds a Phd from the University of Toronto.
Scientific Advisor: Tobias Hanrath, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineer at Cornell University. Hanrath received a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and has served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for MIT, TU Eindhoven and The Netherlands. His research interests include the fundamental study of optoelectronic properties of semiconductor nanocrystals. Hanrath has also received several awards including the Ben Streetman Prize for Outstanding Research in Electronics and the Faculty Early Career Development Award by the National Science Foundation.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Jason Salfi, Business Development Executive at McDonough Innovation. Salfi was the founder and prior owner of Comets Skateboards, and an Entrepreneur in Residence for NYSERDA and High Tech Rochester. He holds two BS degrees from Cornell University in Natural Resource Management for Biology and Policy.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Clayton Poppe, Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at e2e Materials. Poppe is an engineering and technical management professional specializing in new technology development and production scale-up. He received an SM in Engineering Systems and an MBA from MIT. Poppe’s also holds two patents in the areas of composite panels and biodegradable resin composites.
Graphene Lithium Ion Batteries – Rochester Institute of Technology
Technology incorporates carbon nanotubes and lithium ion batteries to improve their performance.
Technical Lead: Ryne Raffaelle, VP Research and Associate Provost, Professor at RIT. Dr. Rafaelle holds a PhD in physics from the University of Missouri-Rolla, and he’s the Managing Editor of Progress in Photovoltaics. With more than 20 years of experience, Raffaelle is the former Director of National Center for Photovoltaics in the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Academic Director for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and Director of the NanoPower Research Laboratory at RIT in New York. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 refereed publications and books.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Brad Sparks, Entrepreneur in Residence at RIT. Sparks leads business activities to determine new technology commercial viability for Venture Creations, RIT’s new business incubator. He is also the President of Sparks Consulting, a business and personal financial strategy consulting service. Prior to this, Sparks worked for Delphi and General Motors. He holds an MBA in General Management from the Harvard Business School. This is the third time Sparks has participated in the NEXUS-NY program.
Learning Center Controls – Binghamton University
Robust autonomous learning solutions that improve energy efficiency and effective operations in systems within highly complex, uncertain and dynamic environments. In Smart Energy domains such systems include: smart grids, smart buildings, wind turbine control systems, and combined heat and power control systems.
Technical Lead: Robert Wright, Computer Scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Wright is the co-lead for Autonomy Community of Interest, Machine Perception Reasoning and Intelligence technical challenge area. In this role he provides analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the DOD’s portfolio in Autonomy investments. He is also an in-house Research Scientist for AFRL, responsible for initiating and executing several research efforts in machine learning, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Binghamton University, and has published more than a dozen works.
Entrepreneurial Lead: Lei Yu, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University. Yu received a PhD in Computer Science from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Arizona State University. His research interests include data mining, machine learning and bioinformatics. Yu’s research publications have been cited by other researchers more than 4,000 times. He has served on the program committees of a number of leading conferences in machine learning and data mining.
Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and administered by High Tech Rochester, each of these research teams will now work with NEXUS-NY staff and mentors to accelerate the commercialization of their early-stage, clean-energy technologies.
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