Tag: Molecular Glasses


NEXUS-NY Portfolio Companies Raise Millions in Funding

NEXUS-NY portfolio companies continue to attract attention after graduating our clean energy proof-of-concept accelerator.

These clean energy companies have ventured on to raise millions in funding. We caught up with a few of our talented founders to get the latest on their successes.

Molecular Glasses closes $200,000 seed round; Wins 2nd grant from the Department of Energy for OLED testing 

2016 was a big year for Molecular Glasses Founder, Mike Molaire. His team moved into the Eastman Business Park and incorporated their business, which develops organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials that work like semiconductors. These materials can be used to manufacture lower-cost and higher-performance TVs, smartphones, tablets and lighting devices.

While participating in the NEXUS-NY accelerator Mike began discussing funding opportunities with Rochester-based venture capital firm, Excell Partners. At the end of the program, executives at Excell expressed an interest in working with Molecular Glasses, and began the due diligence process.

Mike’s goal was to raise $400,000. With Excell’s investment requiring 50% matching from other investors, Mike first had to raise $200,000 from individual investors, friends and family. Excell recently started a new MWBE fund sponsored by NY state to support women and minority-owned businesses. Eligibility for that fund requires MWBE certification.

“With Excell’s assistance, we were able to complete this process successfully,” said Molaire. “At the end of December 2016 we secured a $100,000 match and were able to close on the first $200,000. We are now working toward closing the next $200,000 by the end of March. We have a $50,000 match already committed.”

Molecular Glasses will use its first round of seed funding to support patent activities and manage day-to-day operations. Currently, Molecular Glasses has five pending U.S. and twelve international patent applications. Mike says this is an important part of the company’s strategy.

“Our IP is very strong, and needs to be protected both nationally and internationally,” he added. Most of the people we are dealing with in this space are international companies from the far east, Europe, Japan and China. It’s important we maintain our patents.”

Last year Molecular Glasses was also awarded a grant from the Department of Energy, which helped the company fund its benchmark work. OLEDWorks in Rochester produced the 90 OLED devices under contract with the DOE. Mike says having his materials tested in a DOE certified laboratory provided credibility to the benchmark results, specifically 6 to 15x improvement in device lifetime.

“We took full advantage of this resource,” said Molaire. “We’re now working with OLED chemical suppliers, device manufacturers and independent nonprofit centers in Europe and Asia under nondisclosure agreements to continue this process.”

Mike continues to explore various grant options that will assist in the development of the technology. He says it will be exciting to supply these companies with samples so they can conduct their own tests using his materials. Mike believes this process to will be completed within the next 3-4 months.

American Fuel Cell Closes First Seed Round

Together with the support of High Tech Rochester, Excell Partners and independent investors from the Finger Lakes region, American Fuel Cell has closed its first seed round.

American Fuel Cell (AFC) is a premier supplier of individually tailored Membrane electrode Assemblies (MEA) for multiple Fuel Cell Applications. Through uniquely tailored chemical formulations, system level optimization expertise and high speed, thin film manufacturing machinery, AFC is producing high quality, low cost MEAs specific to any fuel cell application.

AFC Cofounder and CEO Dan O’Connell says the seed funding will be used to bring on additional resources and gear up for volume production. This includes acquiring new capital assets and purchase of raw materials. AFC is also looking for Process and Quality engineering talent, as well as those skilled at final assembly.

“The support American Fuel Cell is getting from the area is amazing. Between High Tech Rochester, Excell Partners, Greater Rochester Enterprise, NYSERDA, M&T Bank, Pathstone, SUNY Alfred State and RIT, we’re leveraging academia, industry, and state resources to expand our industry connections and take huge strides in extending our testing capability,” said O’Connell. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to be tapped into the local startup scene and bringing R&D/Manufacturing jobs back to NY state.”

In addition to closing this seed round, AFC has numerous funding opportunities in the pipeline that will accelerate research into the next generation MEA technology.

Ecolectro wins $150,000 with the Grants for Growth initiative 

Gabriel Rodriguez-Calero first heard about Grants for Growth from the Cornell network. As a co-Founder and CEO of Ecolectro, his mission is to advance his business by putting Ecolectro’s materials into the hands of customers early on in the material design process.

“Before applying to a funding source, I like to learn more about the objectives of each program,” explained Rodriguez-Calero. “If there are milestones associated with the program, if the funds can be used for manufacturing and business development, and how the funding can help Ecolectro reach more clients and potential customers.”

Gabriel says Grants for Growth was a perfect fit for what he’s aiming to accomplish. Ecolectro has developed structurally robust and highly conductive polymer membranes for a large range of applications, including hydrogen generators and fuel cell systems. Having already received $12,500 from the Grants for Growth program, Ecolectro was able to do material characterization and better understand the physical properties of their materials. The research also allowed the Ecolectro team to fine tune their value proposition for potential clients. Ecolectro has now moved on to Track 2 of the Grants for Growth program.

“We get a certain amount first, and as we hit milestones we unlock additional amounts of funding,” added Rodriguez-Calero.

In 2017, Ecolectro is busy making materials and doing evaluation work with customers, as well as reaching out to more clients. This process involves talking to clients and finding more potential synergy with system integrators that can use Ecolecto’s materials in their devices.

Ecolectro has recently opened an investment round. The team remains busy shipping samples and working through collaborative efforts with customers. Gabriel says Ecolectro is receiving a lot of customer interest.

“I love doing this. It’s pretty great,” he said. “I came to the university (Cornell) to work on things that had applications beyond pure research. That’s exactly what we are doing at Ecolectro!”

Other NEXUS-NY portfolio companies making big strides include:

  • Lionano recently closed its Series A;
  • Micatu won $1 million in the 76West Clean Competition, and ChromaNanoTech received a $250,000 prize;
  • Conamix received seed funding from Excell Partners, with the help of High Tech Rochester;
  • AMBIS Technologies partnered with CASE-RPI and the Mmofra Foundation in Ghana for a pilot testbed project;
  • And Dimensional Energy took home first place at Columbia University’s Energy Symposium 2017 Venture Showcase

Since the start of our clean energy accelerator, NEXUS-NY has worked with 30 participants, engagements from which 18 startup companies have been formed. With our help, numerous university licenses have been received, and each of the NEXUS-NY portfolio companies have completed, or are in the process of completing, successful pilot/customer evaluations.

We’re now working with 9 new NEXUS-NY portfolio companies in our 2017 cohort. Here’s a look at the next generation clean energy talent from across New York.

Stay updated on clean energy news, events and funding opportunities. Sign up for NEXUS-NY newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIN.

Molecular Glasses Wins Rochester Venture Challenge

NEXUS-NY is a clean energy startup accelerator chartered with catalyzing the commercialization of technologies discovered by New York researchers. Funded largely by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), NEXUS-NY increases the number of scalable clean energy startup companies within the region. Molecular Glasses participated in NEXUS-NY cohort 2, enabling the company to develop more relevant concepts through the program’s extensive discovery process. As a result, Molecular Glasses is now in position to revolutionize the manufacture and applications of OLED materials.

In April 2016, Founder/CEO Mike Molaire competed in the Rochester Venture Challenge hosted by High Tech Rochester. The panel of judges based its decision on criteria that included the probability of success of the business, as well as the size of its potential economic impact. Molecular Glasses came in third, receiving $2500 in cash and $1000 rent credit for space at HTR’s Lennox Tech Enterprise Center. 

In the next six months, Mike hopes to raise $500,000 by making use of his industry contracts. Read more in his recent interview with the Democrat & Chronicle, Catching up with Mike Molaire, CEO of Molecular Glasses.

You can also learn more about the company’s proprietary NONcrystallizable molecular glasses for stable and long-lived OLED and other organic electronics in the latest edition of the NEXUS-NY New Energy Magazine.

Molecular Glasses: NEXUS-NY Cohort 2Company: Molecular Glasses

Website: MolecularGlasses.com

Description: Molecular Glasses has developed highly stable host materials for OLED devices.  OLEDs have become ubiquitous in small display applications but their adoption has been hampered in large display and lighting.  Molecular Glasses has created a new class of materials which combine the best features of SMOLED and PLED.  More specifically their materials enable lower total system cost and better features today and they provide a bridge to low cost, roll-to-roll device processing in the future.

Location: Eastman Business Park, Rochester, NY

Achievement: Molecular Glasses has developed a third class of OLED materials with the performance of SMOLED, which will not crystallize. This advancement will revolutionize the manufacture and applications available for these materials, while providing 50% reduction cost for large television manufacturing and enabling light extraction improvement by 30%. The company has received several awards, including a $60,000 DOE testing award. 

Founding Team: Mike Molaire (CEO, Founder); Mark Juba (COO); Dr. David S. Weiss (Advanced Research Director)

“Our materials will be used to manufacture large size television, smartphones, tablets and commercial lighting modules. The solution printing process will be a lot easier to implement with our materials. As a significant aspect of our strategy, we have designed our materials to work in the current vacuum/thermal process,” said Molaire. “Thus we do not have to wait for the emerging solution/printing processes in order to start selling materials and making money.”

NEXUS-NY Research: During the NEXUS-NY customer discovery process, Molecular Glasses has spoken with forty experts and potential customers. This enabled them to discard concepts and generate new ones more relevant to the marketplace.

Next Steps: Now seeking to commercialize their technology by selling materials to display and lighting OEMs, Molecular Glasses will complete their proof-of-concept work and begin to market their materials and will partner with an established chemical manufacturer to produce them. The company believes they are 18 to 24 months from selling their first product. They will start delivering samples to interested customers in four to six months.

Contact: Mike.Molaire@yahoo.com | 585.210.2861 | @mmolaire