WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM?
NEXUS NY aims to catalyze and accelerate clean energy startups in New York State. We help move research derived innovations from labs to the marketplace.
HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?
NEXUS-NY is a 9 month program that executes in two phases:
NEXUS-NY provides a structured commercialization process organized around answering three fundamental questions:
1. What is the best commercialization pathway for a given technology? Could it be through a startup?
2. Does the technology work in a way that’s relevant to intended customers?
3. Will a customer actively engage to help validate the technology and business model?
In Phase One, approximately 10 Business Discovery Teams develop and test numerous business hypotheses through interactions with potential customers and industry participants. The desired outcome is to validate whether a viable and scalable business model exists and to decide whether and how best to pursue their commercialization objectives. As Phase One concludes, each Business Discovery Team competes for a spot in Phase Two.
In Phase Two, teams de-risk their technology by building prototypes while continuing to engage customers and develop their go-to-market plans. Some teams will form companies during this period, and those companies will seek third party validation of their technologies and business models. Depending on company progress and availability of funds, NEXUS-NY may choose to offer seed-stage equity investments in one or two companies graduating from the program. These funds are typically invested through convertible debt instruments alongside another lead investor.
Depending on company progress and availability of funds, NEXUS-NY may choose to offer seed-stage equity investments in one or two companies graduating from the program. These funds will likely be invested through convertible debt instruments.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
NEXUS-NY is open to researchers from throughout New York State who have completed basic research within the field of clean energy and who have yet to commercialize the resulting technology. Awards will be granted on a competitive basis to the large community of academic researchers and individual inventors throughout New York State. Researchers will ideally apply to NEXUS-NY after forming a “business discovery team.” In rare cases, NEXUS-NY will assist researchers in finding additional members to help build out their team. For the cohort starting in January, 2017, we intend to work with one or more university partners to build a team around a promising technology. This option allows a scientist to participate in the program without requiring a significant time commitment. More specifically, it is expected that this option will require 2-3 hours per week from a scientific advisor.
WHAT IS THE EXPECTED MAKEUP OF A BUSINESS DISCOVERY TEAM?
Teams should be minimally composed of a Technical Lead (TL) and Business Lead (BL). The TL could be a PI or a Post-doc, and potentially a PhD or graduate student. The BL might be a graduate student, a postdoctoral researcher, an MBA student, or someone from within the community who possesses entrepreneurial traits and who has a deep commitment to the commercialization of the technology.
WHICH TECHNOLOGIES ARE ELIGIBLE?
The program is open to any technology that will generate clean energy or assist the end consumer to reduce carbon emissions. Clean energy is defined here to include energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-carbon technologies. Examples include, but are not limited to: Biofuels, Biomass, Building Technology, Energy Storage, Fuel Cells, Photovoltaic, Smart Grid, Transportation and Wind. Applicants are encouraged to think broadly when considering the definition of clean energy.
HOW AND WHEN DO I APPLY?
Applications will be available at NEXUS-NY.org between October 18th and November 11th.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE?
The TENTATIVE schedule for cohort 4 is as follows: Phase 1 starts around the middle of January, 2016 with a 2-day kickoff meeting in Rochester, NY. Phase 1 lasts about 10 weeks and is immediately followed by phase 2 which lasts another 6 months. The program concludes around the middle of October.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL I NEED TO DEDICATE TO THIS EFFORT?
It will be different for each team, but experience suggests 15 – 25 hours per week for the Business Lead. An equal commitment is desired from the Technical Lead; however, teams will have some flexibility in determining how to divide the work.
HOW WILL I SPEND MY TIME?
During phase 1, weekly on-line meetings will be held, lasting roughly 90 minutes. These meetings will have several components including: formal progress updates from each team and a teaching session which focuses on one or more business model component (ex. customer segments, value propositions, etc.). Time between meetings will be used to test business model hypotheses through customer and collaborator interaction; to develop proof-of-concepts; and to make changes to the team’s business model based on recent learnings.
HOW MUCH DIRECT FINANCIAL SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS?
There is approximately $60K nominally allocated for each team that makes it through to Phase 2. Additional support is available for IP services, investor due diligence reporting, entity formation, travel, etc. It is expected that some teams may receive more than the nominal amount and some may receive less. Teams further receive significant non-monetary value in the form of mentoring, the experiential curriculum and in connections with cohort peers, industry participants and the investor community.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF FUNDS?
NEXUS-NY will generally fund activities related to customer travel, program travel and prototyping. We aim to limit spending on capital equipment (test instruments, manufacturing equipment, computers, etc.) except where a strong justification can be provided. We will not fund salaries for the Technical Lead or the Entrepreneurial Lead. We will consider a stipend for graduate students during phase 2.
NEXUS-NY IS AFFILIATED WITH HIGH TECH ROCHESTER IN ROCHESTER, NY. WHAT IF I AM NOT LOCATED NEARBY? DO I HAVE TO TAKE UP RESIDENCE AT THE HTR INCUBATOR?
This program is targeted at business discovery teams throughout New York State. Most participants DO NOT reside in Rochester. Participants will be required to attend weekly meetings, but most can be optionally joined through video conferencing. NEXUS-NY is an incubator-agnostic program. We are interested in providing financial, human and educational resources in order to improve outcomes regardless where a business discovery team is located and where they eventually take up residence.
WHAT ARE THE TECHNOLOGY SELECTION CRITERIA AND WHO WILL MAKE THE SELECTIONS?
NEXUS-NY will convene an independent screening committee that will assess applications across a wide range of criteria, including: commercial potential, technology strength and novelty, strength of team, commitment to the experiential training process, and eventual commercialization of the technology, etc.
DOES NEXUS-NY HOPE TO RETAIN ANY INTEREST IN MY TECHNOLOGY OR COMPANY?
No. We are not asking for equity or royalties from business discovery teams that enter our program. We have the ability to offer follow-on equity investments to high potential NEXUS-NY graduates.
WHAT ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY EXPECTATIONS?
NEXUS-NY has no specific IP requirements; however, invention disclosures, provisional patents and full-utility patents may be useful to the screening team when assessing technology strength. Also, not all NEXUS-NY advisors, mentors and technology/team screening committee members will be covered under non-disclosure agreements, so you should consult your IP attorney to determine what information you can disclose. If you are a researcher at a University, it is likely your technology transfer office may have additional requirements related to IP. Please consult with that office.
MY COMPANY HAS BEEN WORKING ON COMMERCIALIZING OUR TECHNOLOGY FOR SEVERAL YEARS. CAN WE PARTICIPATE?
It is possible; however, NEXUS-NY is targeted at helping accelerate the translation of early stage technologies into tangible products and subsequently to scalable businesses. Technologies that are situated towards the start of the innovation to commercialization continuum are ideally suited for this program. NYSERDA has other programs that may be better suited for later-stage innovations.