Tag: RPI


Top Clean Energy Companies Demonstrate Groundbreaking Technologies

Meet the Founders at the 2017 NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Demo Day October 10 in Rochester

NEXUS-NY is soon to complete another season of moving innovative energy technologies from research labs to the market. You’re invited to meet the founders of some of the top clean energy companies in Upstate NY. Each founder will demonstrate their prototypes, and reveal what’s on the horizon for their ventures.

Get free tickets -> 2017 NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Demo Day

Here’s a look at the companies graduating from NEXUS-NY this year, including exclusive insights from NEXUS-NY Executive Director Doug Buerkle.

Active Energy Systems
Cornell University / Oak Ridge National Lab
Mitchell Ishmael, CEO; Levon Atoyan, COO

Active Energy Systems | NEXUS-NYActive Energy Systems’ large-scale (> 10 MWh) energy storage technology makes major improvements in round trip efficiency (> 95%) when compared to today’s batteries. The company’s innovation enables it to capture and convert low temperature waste heat, which side-steps the efficiency barriers that limit most conventional energy storage technologies. In addition, by storing energy thermally, Active Energy SYstems uses safe, low-cost materials. The founders are currently de-risking their technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory through Innovation Crossroads, a DOE sponsored entrepreneurship program.

Doug’s Outlook: It has been great to watch Mitchell progress, first as a Commercialization Fellow at Cornell, then through NEXUS-NY, and now as a member of the DOE’s Innovation Crossroads program at Oak Ridge National Labs. He, and co-founder Levon, are working on a unique solution which makes maximum use of low grade waste heat. Their energy storage solution could be a game-changer for large data centers which consume more than 70B kWh of energy.”

More -> https://www.f6s.com/activeenergysystems

FirePower
Syracuse University
Ryan Milcarek, CEO; Dr. Jeongmin Ahn, Inventor

Firepower - Syracuse University - Ryan MilcarekFirePower is a Syracuse, NY based technology company focused on enabling self-powered residential furnaces, hot water heaters, and boilers. Self-powered furnaces are able to power parasitic loads like blowers and igniters when the electricity goes out. FirePower uses innovative and patented fuel cell technology to enable the production of electricity from post combustion exhaust gas in furnaces, boilers, or hot water heaters. The company’s technology produces enough electricity to provide constant power to furnaces plus supplemental power to an external outlet for cell phone charging or other critical loads during a power outage.

Doug’s Outlook: Ryan and his team have made tremendous progress with their prototype and customer understanding. They’ve demonstrated they can overcome one of the key limitations that has inhibited broader adoption of solid oxide fuel cells. More specifically, they’ve achieved a high number of thermal cycles. Soon they’ll have their technology fully integrated into a commercial furnace.”

More -> From Customer Discovery to De-Risking Technology – It’s Time for NEXUS-NY Phase 2

Lux Semiconductors
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Shane McMahon; Graeme Housser

Lux Semiconductors is poised to become a leading manufacturer and supplier of high quality substrates to the rapidly growing flexible electronics industry. The company is developing a patent pending thin-film recrystallization process capable of producing highly crystalline flexible semiconductor films on low cost rolls and sheets. Electronics manufacturers no longer have to compromise on performance or cost when designing the next generation of lightweight, flexible devices, including photovoltaics, OLED displays, lighting, wearables, batteries, and sensors.

Doug’s Outlook: “Shane and Graeme are working on what could become a very disruptive innovation. Their lightweight, high quality substrates solve problems for many customers, including those manufacturing weight-constrained solar panels. Early proof-of-concept devices have demonstrated a high degree of crystallinity. They are currently optimizing their processes, working to produce Germanium substrates, and engaging the numerous commercial and research partners who’ve demonstrated commercial interest.”

News -> Albany Business Review; Times Union

AmbientPV
Rochester Institute of Technology
James Sinka; Dmitry Liapitch

AmbientPV | NEXUS-NYAmbientPV makes energy harvesters that are uniquely effective at capturing indoor light. AmbientPV outperforms silicon solar by more than 3X in its target applications. Its solar cells are less costly to produce, and can be molded to custom shapes to maximize the surface area available for energy collection. AmbientPV’s technology can be used to supplement, and in some cases totally replace batteries in wireless applications such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Ambient PV’s customers benefit from extended operational lifetime and reduced battery waste.

Doug’s Outlook: James is the first undergraduate who has ever participated in the NEXUS-NY program. When we first met him, we were immediately impressed with his intellect and passion around solar technologies. He decided to put off his PhD because he didn’t want to delay solving big, real-world problems. James and Dmitry have surpassed our every expectation; their early prototypes are outperforming commercial silicon cells in indoor applications, and they are gaining traction with early customers.”

More -> Simone Center Innovation Spotlight

SelfArray
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Mark Durniak, Principal Scientist; Clint Ballinger, CEO

SelfArray | NEXUS-NYSelfArray, Inc. has developed a novel manufacturing technology which will enable the broad adoption of direct-view LED displays. These displays are 30x brighter, 100x faster, and 10x more energy efficient than the best LED, OLED, or projection displays. SelfArray’s diamagnetic directed self-assembly technology promises to increase manufacturing speeds by 10x while lowering overall system cost by up to 50%. The company’s technology enables fast and simple arrangement of LEDs into a grid for assembly into “pixel panels.” SelfArray intends to sell these pixel panels to leading display makers. The company is located in Troy, NY.

Doug’s Outlook:NEXUS encourages researchers to: 1) validate market opportunities; 2) de-risk technologies; and 3) demonstrate customer interest. Most researchers struggle to fully embrace the process of learning from customers, but Mark Durniak has thrived during NEXUS-NY. He and his co-founders have gained audiences with the world’s largest display makers and have pivoted numerous times based on their learnings. You won’t want to miss Mark’s presentation and SelfArray’s demo on October 10.”

More -> http://www.selfarray.com

Sunny Clean Water
University at Buffalo
Matt Singer, CEO; Qiaoqiang Gan, CTO; Zongmin Bei, COO

Sunny Clean Water | NEXUS-NYSunny Clean Water is a startup company from the University at Buffalo that has developed a carbon-based cloth, to enhance solar powered evaporation.  This technology has been applied to solar water distillation to help bring clean drinking water to developing regions around the world. It’s initial target application is in Lithium mining, where the technology promises to speed salt recovery while simultaneously providing fresh drinking water to mine workers. (Buffalo)

Doug’s Outlook: ”SunnyClean is probably the most altruistically motivated participant in cohort #4 of NEXUS-NY. Co-founder, Matt Singer wants to bring clean, affordable drinking water to third-world countries. Throughout the NEXUS program, his mentors have encouraged him to also consider how his enhanced solar still technology might provide unique value for commercial applications like salt mining. As a result, SunnyClean anticipates installing its first prototype with the help of a large Lithium mining company later this year.”

More -> https://www.sunnycleanwater.com

In addition to these cleantech companies, Demo Day guests will also hear an update from past NEXUS-NY participate Dan O’Connell, Founder and CEO of American Fuel Cell.

American Fuel Cell is the premier supplier of individually tailored Membrane Electrodes Assemblies (MEA) for multiple fuel cell applications. Noted for bringing high tech fuel cell jobs to Rochester, NY,  American Fuel Cell aims to power the future by creating cheaper, more efficient and more practical cells. Dan will share progress on manufacturing underway at the Kodak Eastman Business Park, and the latest on the company’s fundraising efforts.

To date, NEXUS-NY has helped launch 21 startup companies. 15 graduates have one on to raise more than $22 million in follow on funding, and five companies have generated initial customer revenue. Is your idea next? Applications for NEXUS-NY Cohort 5 open on October 2. Sign up for newsletters to receive a direct link to the online application form.

From Customer Discovery to De-Risking Technology – It’s Time for NEXUS-NY Phase 2

After three months of intense preparation, the NEXUS-NY midterms mark a milestone in our program.

At the beginning of 2017, nine innovative early-stage technologies were selected to join NEXUS-NY’s proof-of-concept center based on their potential to make an impact, and solve big energy and environmental problems. These teams entered into a structured process for testing the commercial potential of their innovations, guided by a network of business advisors and supported by early-stage funding for prototyping and customer development.

Now it’s time to assess how much each team has accomplished, and determine who will move forward into Phase 2 of our clean energy accelerator. Panelists comprised of industry experts helped answer this question by judging team pitches and providing feedback during our midterm presentations.

“I’m always blown away by how much progress these very early stage NEXUS teams are able to make in a few short months. By getting out and talking with potential customers early on, the insights they gain are remarkable, and significantly accelerate their path to market – with products and services that solve real problems,” said Jim Senall, President of High Tech Rochester.

NEXUS-NY Cohort 4 Midterm JudgesAlongside Jim on the judges’ panel was entrepreneur Dorrance Lamb, Tim Wilson, Chairman of Rochester Angel Network, and Jeff Peterson, Program Manager with NYSERDA. “This years cohort is no different. From next gen combined heat and power, to photovoltaics, to LED displays, the technologies and markets are different, but the process and results are the same. I look forward to seeing even further advancement after Phase 2 has completed,” added Senall.

In Phase 2 each team will receive up to $75,000 for further prototyping, IP services, investor due diligence reporting, entity formation and travel, along with help securing additional grants and investments.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the teams advancing forward with NEXUS-NY!

A novel way to generate heat and reduce energy.

From refrigerators and sump pumps, to cell phones and computers, when your power goes out, Firepower saves the day.

Firepower - Syracuse University - Ryan Milcarek Firepower is a novel fuel cell-assisted, resilient heating and power technology derived from Syracuse University. Dr. Jeongmin Ahn, director of the Combustion and Energy Research Lab, originally developed part of the concept with his colleague Dr. Khalifa. It’s a way to create a self-powered, grid-independent and self-contained furnace made possible by having a fuel cell that operates directly in a flame.

“This is completely different than anything else in the industry. We’re addressing a problem that furnace manufacturers have never been able to address before.” said Ryan Milcarek, Entrepreneur Lead of Firepower. “Using this technology, your furnace generates heat and electricity enabling it to power itself and give homeowners a choice of what else to power.”

Ryan was working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center program and interested in HVAC. When he came across the patent at Syracuse University, he liked the idea of a furnace and a fuel cell, so he decided to do his PhD on the technology.

“Heat is a need, and we need power for that heat. But when the power goes out, we have no heat,” explained Milcarek. “Last winter when my power went out and I had a 10-month-old in the house, I was concerned.”

After graduating, Ryan stayed with the project because he believes in its commercial potential. In addition to providing an alternative source of power, Ryan says the technology is a  low-cost system that reduces NOx emissions and saves energy. “In all, Firepower is tackling a $1.8 billion industry,” he added.

Firepower has also received a significant amount of funding to take its early-stage technology and do something with it. This includes an AMTEC grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and a NYSERDA PON 2606 for single cell testing. NEXUS-NY and the Syracuse Center of Excellence have further supported Firepower, and Ryan was the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Syracuse University’s tech transfer office is now working with Ryan to help the Firepower team license the technology so they can form a company and further accelerate their commercialization efforts. The NYS Science and Technology Law Center at Syracuse University is also assisting with IP and market assessment

With a nondisclosure agreement already in place with a large component manufacturer that is ready to sell their technology, Ryan says the next step is for Firepower to develop an actual furnace. “We already have a working prototype, now we need to prove the electrical efficiency, and test some materials.”

Ryan believes Firepower is two years away from commercialization.

Opening a new market with affordable, flexible and lightweight solar panels.

Lux Semiconductors - SUNY PolyFounded by two PhD students in their research lab at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Lux Semiconductors is drastically reducing the cost of lightweight and flexible solar cells.

Shane McMahon and Graeme Housser met while working in the same research group, one dedicated to clean energy technologies. Familiar with thin film solar, the two partnered together to combine their technical and industry knowledge to create a high quality product not found on the market today.

“The solar industry is growing at an average rate of 60% year over year, and all of this growth is based on standard silicon solar panels. These panels are great, but they can’t be installed everywhere that people want to put them, because of their shape and weight,” said Graeme. “So we are developing a new technology to produce lightweight, flexible solar cells, and importantly without sacrificing performance or affordability.”

Having interviewed over 60 potential customers in Phase 1 of the NEXUS-NY program about their flexible and lightweight solar cells, Shane and Graeme feel confident they’re on the right track.

“Ensuring that our technology has product-market fit is what the customer discovery process is all about. Through constant interaction with potential customers, we’ve been able to identify new ways to direct the development of our technology that will deliver the most value to our future customers,” said Shane.

“We were a little naive when we first started, we wanted to take on the entire solar industry,” added Graeme. “We quickly learned that we need to focus on a niche application first, and then scale from there.”

Shane and Graeme have found three major markets in the solar industry that Lux Semiconductors could target. The first is portable power applications, where solar packs are used for extended military deployments, emergency responders, and outdoor enthusiasts. The second is building and vehicle-integrated solar panels, such as awnings, solar canopies, carports, trucks with overnight cabins, small boats, and RVs. And the third is commercial and industrial weight-constrained rooftops, where nearly 40% of all malls, big-box retailers, and industrial warehouses across the U.S. have weight-constrained roofs.

“Portable power looks like a solid entry market. It’s lower scale with high margins, but not as big as integrated buildings or industrial rooftops,” said Graeme. “It’s our plan to scale up to those other larger markets over time.”

Now accepted into NEXUS-NY Phase 2, Lux Semiconductors will focus on creating high quality,  thin film substrates that are used as the underlying materials for solar cells.

“We are planning to purchase additional equipment to fabricate our unique substrate materials, which we expect to be nearly 100 times cheaper per unit area than today’s industry standard wafer version,” said Shane.

Lux Semiconductors already has several partners who are interested in testing their samples in their devices.

Quick and easy assembly of small LED chips into a grid array.

SelfArray - RPI - Mark DurniakSelfArray’s novel system utilizes diamagnetic levitation for the self assembly of LED’s for displays. This assembly process is not only quick and easy, it helps enable digital billboards, which are more energy efficiency, brighter, and with higher contrast.

SelfArray was developed by electrical engineering professor James Lu in the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Engineering Research Center at RPI. The company was incorporated in 2015, and after receiving NSF SBIR funding last year, Dr. Mark Durniak was added to the team as a full-time principal engineer.

“Dr. Lu had been following my research. So when I graduated we connected about bringing his technology to market,” said Mark.

SelfArray CEO Clint Ballinger heard about NEXUS-NY during an information session at RPI. The team has spent the last several months working on customer discovery and prototyping.

“Originally developed for lighting panels, we learned through market research that, though our technology could deliver very high resolution for TV sized displays, competing with the LCD market wouldn’t be wise, said Mark. “We now believe the technology is better suited for large-scale indoor digital displays.”

SelfArray is on track to complete Phase 1 of their National Science Foundation (NSF) deliverable, which includes a low resolution display. Mark said this is a good first step, but the industry wants to see something more in line with products today.

“When you walk into the Apple store you see a 1mm pitch display in the back,” explained Mark. “With our novel system utilizing diamagnetic levitation, we can assembly those large displays in minutes rather than weeks.”

SelfArray’s go to market strategy involves selling directly to top display makers. They are now working with an LED supplier to join forces with a display maker and further test their technology. Mark anticipates the company will be generating revenue as early as 2018, with a product launch scheduled for 2019.

With funding from NEXUS-NY Phase 2, SelfArray will push forward with these objectives. They are also seeking to raise an additional $1 million from individual investors.

Several Other Teams Move Forward to NEXUS-NY Phase 2

Among them include:

Active Energy Systems (Cornell University)
Thermo-mechanical energy storage system for data centers. AES utilizes waste heat and phase change materials to enable high round trip efficiencies at low cost.

Printed Photovoltaics (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Lightweight, moldable, printed solar cells for indoor applications. Printed PV enables extended life of wireless IoT devices.

Sunny Clean Water (University at Buffalo)
Nanomaterial and system that enables rapid water evaporation for two key applications: water desalination and purification; and increased throughput of salt recovery in mines.

Continue to follow the progress of these passionate inventors and entrepreneurs. Sign up for NEXUS-NY newsletters to receive special invites to industry events, including Demo Day this fall in Rochester, NY.

9 New Clean Energy Technologies Chosen to Power the Next Generation

Meet the 2017 NEXUS-NY Research Teams

NEXUS-NY’s proof-of-concept accelerator is ready for another year of helping to catalyze the commercialization of research-derived clean energy technologies. After months of meetings at colleges and universities across NYS, the NEXUS-NY team has selected 9 rockstar clean energy innovations that have major potential to power innovation, and fuel the future.

Here’s your first look at the promising early-stage clean energy technologies NEXUS-NY will invest in, and mentor in 2017.

Active Energy Storage (Cornell) – Thermomechanical energy storage
AES technology intelligently manages different sources of thermal energy to inexpensively store electricity. This helps incorporate renewable resources into the power grid. Diurnal temperature swings can further enhance storage efficiency when storing electricity as thermal energy. AES technology represents a step forward over conventional pumped-heat electricity storage units.

Levon Atoyan | NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Levon Atoyan
Graduate Research Assistant and PhD candidate of Electrical, Computer Engineering at Cornell University. He is a participant in Technology Entrepreneurship at Cornell. Levon received a Bachelor of Engineering from McGill University. Publications include: Helical Plasma Striations in Liners in the Presence of an External Axial Magnetic Field and Early time studies of cylindrical liner implosions at 1 MA on COBRA.

Mitchell Ishmael | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Mitchell Ishmael
Tester Lab Research Assistant and PhD candidate of Materials Sciences & Engineering, Thermodynamics & Energy Storage at Cornell University. Mitchell is a recipient of a Commercialization Fellowship. He received a Bachelor of Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering. He’s interested in understanding heat capacity of fluid mixtures under supercritical conditions.

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Alta Films (formerly CQuest Partners LLC) (Clarkson) – Carbon nanosheets for energy storage
Alta Films is commercializing the next-generation, renewable energy storage technology for supercapacitors, lithium-ion batteries and beyond. Alta Films holds several of Dr. Mitlin’s patents related to producing a unique graphene-like carbon nanosheet material from low cost agricultural products.

David Hessler | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: David Hessler
Numerous consulting assignments including Innovation Advisor, and EIR with the NYS Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA); Business Advisor with MicroGen Systems; Board Member with the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson University; and Advisory Board Member with the iCLEAN Incubator. David received an MBA and MSE from the University of Michigan, and a BSME from Clarkson University.

Dr, David Mitlin | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Dr. David Mitlin
Professor and GE Chair in Oil and Gas Systems at Clarkson University jointly in the Departments of Chemical/Biomolecular and Mechanical Engineering. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and presented over 80 keynote talks. David holds 3 U.S. patents, is an Editor for the Journal of Materials Science and serves on the Board of Review for Metallurgical and Materials Transactions. PhD from Berkeley.
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FirePower (Syracuse) – Flame-assisted fuel cells for micro-CHP
FirePower seeks to create cleaner combustion through the combined use of fuel cell and combustion theory and technology by reducing the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in combustion processes. The concept utilizes a two-stage combustor, also known as a rich-burn, quick-mix, lean-burn or RQL combustor, with a fuel cell integrated between the fuel-rich and fuel-lean combustion zones. This flame-assisted fuel cell generates electrochemical power at high efficiency, as well as heat for a range of applications including combined cycles, space heating, and jet engines.

Ryan Milcarek | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Ryan Milcarek
Lab Manager at the Combustion and Energy Research Laboratory, and PhD candidate of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Syracuse University. Ryan earned a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and an ASHRAE Graduate Grant-In-Aid, Life Member Club designation. His various publications include Micro-tubular Flame-assisted Fuel Cell Stacks.

Dr. Jeongmin Ahn | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Dr. Jeongmin Ahn
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University, and affiliated with the Combustion and Energy Research Laboratory (COMER). Jeongmin’s current research includes Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). He was elected as Fellow of ASME, and received the Sustainable Aviation Research Society Science Award. He has nearly 200 publications.

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LuX (SUNY Poly) – Thin film crystallization for PV
LuX is developing and commercializing technology to provide highly crystalline, roll-to-roll semiconductor films for photovoltaic and LED industries. This exciting platform technology is adaptable to a range of valuable materials and will disrupt the typical tradeoffs of cost and quality for high throughput manufacturing.

Graeme Housser | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Graeme Housser
PhD candidate at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Graeme is also a Graduate Student Intern at U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC). Prior to this, he was a Site Engineer at Suncor Energy. His several publications include Demonstration of PV Modules with Lightweight Mounting Systems on Commercial Rooftops.

 

Technical Lead: Shane McMahon
Phd Candidate and Research Assistant at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Shane received the Presidential Scholar Honorary Alumni Speaker award at Siena College (2016) and a $500,000 NYSERDA Bench to Prototype Grant (2015). Shane’s publications include Textured (111) Crystalline Silicon Thin Film Growth on Flexible Glass by E-beam Evaporation.

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MicroEra Power (RIT Venture Creations) – Combined SOFC/IC engine system for distributed power generation
MicroEra Power is developing a highly efficient Enhanced Generator System, combining a natural gas engine and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). MicroEra Power envisions an energy management platform to provide backup power generation, peak-shaving, Demand Response, and the efficiency benefits of combined heat and power (CHP), and combined heat and cooling power (CHCP).

Eleanor Rusling | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearchersEntrepreneur Lead: Eleanor “Ellie” Rusling
CEO of MicroEra Power, housed in RIT’s Venture Creations Incubator. Board Member of Highland Hospital Foundation, Secretary of AHEAD Energy, 501c3 and Exec. Director of their Clean Energy Commercialization Center. As an experienced entrepreneur, Ellie has skills in technologies to market, grant writing, and investor relations. BA from Smith College and MS from the University of Rochester.

James Grieve | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: M. James Grieve
CTO of MicroEra Power and Chairman of AHEAD Energy, 501c3. He is also a Board Member of the NH3 Fuel Association. James was a Chief Scientist for Delphi Corporation, and a Powertrain Systems Engineer for General Motors. He has 30 years of automotive engineering experience with emission controls, engine management systems, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels. James received his MBA from IESE Business School. He is named on over 40 patents.

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Printed Solar (RIT) – Solution Processed Solar Cells
Printed Solar is developing a fully solution processed photovoltaic device that can be scalably manufactured using roll-to-roll techniques. Their solar cells outperform silicon in low light, enabling them to provide sufficient energy for low power electronic devices in ambient conditions.

Dmitry Liapitch | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Dmitry Liapitch
Dmitry received a Master of Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is now pursuing a Master of Science from the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Dmitry is also a professional Physics tutor and a former Research Fellow with the National Wildlife Federation. He was a finalist in RIT’s Tiger Tank in 2016 for his proposal on WoW Energy Systems.

 

James Sinka | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: James Sinka
James is a materials scientist and entrepreneur specializing in perovskite photovoltaics with deep interests in sensing technology. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Projects include The Characterization of Novel Donor Materials for OPV by Cyclic Voltammetry, which reveals the electric potentials at which an analyte is oxidized and reduced.

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SelfArray (RPI) – Directed self-assembly tech for LED & PV
SelfArray is an SBIR Phase I startup spun our of research conducted within LESA at RPI. SelfArray’s directed self-assembly (DSA) manufacturing technology uses magnetic levitation and vibration to rapidly arrange massive numbers of LED chips into a pixel-array for display applications. The company’s DSA technology differs fundamentally from both the widely accepted pick-and-place and the emerging transfer printing/stamping manufacturing methods, overcoming many issues associated with those technologies. DSA’s approach enables scalable, fast, and accurate self-assembly of micro-scale LEDs arrays at low capital and labor cost for the manufacturing of energy efficient LED direct view displays.

Mark Durniak | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Dr. Mark T. Durniak
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at RPI. As a Sandia National Laboratory Excellence in Engineering Research Fellow at RPI, Mark was first to grow and achieve green luminescence from cubic GaN/GaInN. Published in Compound Semiconductor Magazine and Advanced Electronic Materials. He now focuses on characterizing magnetic directed-self-assembly of mm-scale LED chips for display and lighting applications.

Clinton Ballinger | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Clinton Ballinger
Clint is an Executive Entrepreneur in Residence at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he teaches and leads an NSF-funded I-Site program. He’s also an EIR with IgniteU NY, Strategic Advisor for Buzz Media Solutions and CEO of Evident Thermoelectrics. Prior to this, Clint was an Adjunct Professor at RPI and a Senior Scientist at Lockheed Martin. He received a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan.
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Suny Clean Water (UB) – Solar powered water purification
Suny Clean Water has developed an inexpensive solar sill that uses sunlight to purify dirty water up to four times faster than current commercial versions. Research shows this process is 88% efficient at channeling the energy in sunlight into evaporating water. The technology will allow people to generate their own drinking water much like they generate their own power using rooftop solar panels.

Matthew Singer | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherEntrepreneur Lead: Matthew Singer
Matthew is pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University at Buffalo Graduate School. He has held engineering internships at Siemens and Crestron Electronics. Matt has also participated in GRoW Home at UB, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, an international competition with the goal of educating the public about energy-saving residential designs.

Chenyu Li | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Chenyu Li
Former Research Assistant with the Nano-optics and Biophotonics Lab at University of Buffalo and the Quantum-Dot Materials and Devices Research Group at Tianjin University. Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Chenyu’s projects include fabricating plasmonic super solar light absorber, building surface plasmon resonance detector and fabricating quantum dots anode.

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Tacus Technologies (Cornell) – Energy harvesting solutions
Tacus Technologies has developed a piezoelectrically powered RF Transponder that leverages a 3D-printed plastic structure to achieve low frequency sensitivity and a broadband response. By using a mechanical switching mechanism for transmission, Tacus has eliminated the use of traditional CMOS IC’s and achieved a zero-power sleep state. Tacus seeks to commercialize the technology in remote areas where there is no power readily available or in environments where replacing batteries for wireless nodes is too costly.

Entrepreneur Lead: Donald McCullough
Former Entrepreneurial Lead with the NYCRIN I-Corps Regional Cohort. Don graduated from the ILR School at Cornell University in 2015 and Wake Forest University School of Business in 2016 with a MA in Management. While at Wake Forest, he served as a graduate consultant for Cigna Healthcare and Vulcan Materials. Don was also a Student Ambassador, and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society.

Sahil Gupta | 2017 NEXUS-NY ResearcherTechnical Lead: Sahil Gupta
Former Entrepreneurial Lead with NYCRIN I-Corps Region Cohort, Graduate Research Assistant with SonicMEMS Laboratory at Cornell, and Engineer for Boeing. Sahil received a Master of Engineering from Cornell, and placed first in the Hilton Head MEMS Shark-Pup Tank Entrepreneurship Competition. Publications include Vibration powered RF-Transponder for Sensing Low Frequency Motion Events.

 

In Phase I of the NEXUS-NY accelerator, each team will now work with world class mentors and industry experts to identify market opportunities for their clean energy technologies, including developing comprehensive business plans and conducting customer discovery.

We’re excited to continue assisting these entrepreneurs and scientists propel their amazing technologies forward. Join us by signing up for NEXUS-NY newsletters. We’ll release updates on the teams, and more details on events leading up to Demo Days in Rochester, NY and New York City.

NEXUS-NY 2016 Demo Day

7 Clean Energy Startups Changing the World

To date, NEXUS-NY has helped launch 15 startup companies. Eight graduates have gone on to raise more than $6.5MM, and four have generated initial customer revenue.

Interested commercializing your clean energy technology? Apply to NEXUS-NY.

Now meet the graduates of the 2016 Cohort of NEXUS-NY. Each presented at our annual Demo Day in Rochester, NY after completed the NEXUS-NY clean energy seed accelerator program.

Phase Innovations (SUNY Alfred)
Phase Innovations is developing a low-cost, advanced air conditioning system without chemical refrigerants, and which uses less energy than conventional systems.

Ducted Turbines International (Clarkson University)
DTI is a wind turbine company working to provide the lowest cost per kWh in the small turbine market (<10kW).

MIMiC (RPI)
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is developing modular, switchable heating and cooling systems that reduce building energy consumption, while increasing occupant comfort.

Dimensional Energy (Cornell University)
Dimensional Energy is breaking new ground in artificial photosynthesis by converting waste carbon dioxide into green fuels using only sunlight as an energy source.

NanoHydro (SUNY Buffalo)
NanoHydro has developed a novel, proprietary nanomaterial capable of generating hydrogen gas from water, on demand and at room temperature.

BioEnergySP
BioEnergySP is working to commercialize its patent pending industrial equipment for wastewater treatment. Its Electroactive Attached Growth (EAG) modules save energy and expand treatment capacity for municipal and energy customers.

Cellec Technologies (RIT)
Cellec Technologies is using patented carbon nanotube (CNT) technologies to increase the performance of high-end lithium ion batteries by 40% for defense and intelligence applications.

About NEXUS-NY
NEXUS-NY is a clean energy seed accelerator. Each year we provide financial, business and educational support to around 10 entrepreneurial teams, which are selected through a competitive application process. Program participants are eligible to receive $50,000 or more of equity-free financial support, plus additional service from NEXUS-NY mentors and partner organizations. Our entrepreneurs come from research universities and the general community, and share several common traits:

  • They are passionate about their technology and want to start a great company
  • They want to solve big problems for real customers
  • They recognize the need to demonstrate their technology and business model though meaningful proof-of-concept prototypes and customer interactions

NEXUS-NY provides a structured customer commercialization process organized around answering three fundamental questions:

  • What is the best commercialization pathway for a given technology? Could it be through a startup?
  • Does technology work in a way that’s relevant to intended customers?
  • Will a customer actively engage to help validate the technology and business model?

The most promising graduating companies are eligible to receive follow on equity investments. NEXUS-NY is a program of High Tech Rochester (HTR) and is funded largely through a proof-of-concept center grant from NYSERDA.

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NEXUS-NY 2016 Teams Ready for Demo Day

NEXUS-NY is a clean energy seed accelerator. Each year the program provides financial, business and education support to entrepreneurial teams selected through a competitive application process.

Participants primarily come from NY research universities and share several common traits:

  1. They’re passionate about their research and want to start a great company
  2. They want to solve big problems for real customers
  3. They recognize the need to demonstrate their technology and business model through meaningful proof-of-concept prototype and customer interactions

Innovation Together - Proof of Concept CentersVIDEO: Innovating Together – Proof of Concept Centers

Mae-ling Lokko, founder of AMBIS Technologies and NEXUS-NY graduate featured by NY American Science and NYSERDA on the power mentorship through the NEXUS-NY’s proof-of-concept center.

“Our program strives to determine if someone should start a company, see if the technology actually works, and gain 3rd party validation of the technology and business model,” explained NEXUS-NY Executive Director Doug Buerkle. “In prior cohorts, many companies fell short of validation until well after the program ended. But for the 2016 teams, validation is a strong theme. Four of our graduating companies are, or will shortly be, conducting some type of customer demonstration study. This process validates the technology in a relevant environment and sends a strong signal to the rest of the market.”

Excited to showcase the 2016 participants in the NEXUS-NY program on Demo Day, here’s a racap of where the seven teams stand to date, and “Doug’s Take” on each team pitching on October 5 at the Rochester Public Market. Join us in celebrating their groundbreaking achievements! 

BioEnergySP – Saving Energy for Wastewater Treatment

BioEnergySP is a newly incorporated clean energy company that has invented novel 4th generation compartment free Microbial Fuel Cells. This patent pending industrial equipment Electroactive Attached Growth (EAG) technology saves energy for municipal and industrial customers, allowing facilities to significantly reduce operating expenses or to expand with minimal capital outlays.  Since the start of Phase 2 of the NEXUS-NY program, the leaders of BioEnergySP are excited to have built their first Pilot Scale prototype, which will be deployed in October in a New York State Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“This is an exciting milestone for our company that could not have been achieved without the mentorship and help of the NEXUS-NY program,” said Entrepreneurial Lead Adrian Cosma. “The pilot this fall will allow us to validate our technology and will get us one step closer to commercializing our technology. Recently we validated our technology in the lab, and there is the opportunity to offer tremendous value for our customers while having a positive effect on the environment.”

Doug’s Take: “Another great success story. In addition to being a 76West semifinalist, BioEnergySP has established a partnership with a leading engineering and construction firm that is going to build their pilot.  Their first system will be deployed at a New York wastewater treatment facility in the very near future.”

Cellec Technologies (RIT) – High-end Lithium Ion Batteries

Cellec Technologies is using patented technologies to improve the performance of high-end lithium ion batteries for small satellites, remote sensing and UAV applications in the defense and intelligence communities. The team is primarily composed of researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology. The Cellec team successfully exited phase 1 of the NEXUS-NY program in April, 2016 and has since been working on phase 2 deliverables. The team is working with several potential customers and expects to have its first orders shortly.

“Our efforts have primarily focused on improving our battery cell prototypes to meet customer deliverables. We have developed initial pouch cell batteries that show a 40% performance improvement over commercially available alternatives; while searching for ways to reduce the total cost of the battery cells without sacrificing performance,” explained Entrepreneurial Lead Brad Sparks. “Our multiple patents provide intellectual property protection and we have worked with the NYS Science + Technology Law Center to map the patent landscape.”

Doug’s Take: “RIT has built a functional prototype and could be in position to announce their first customer at Demo Day. This customer will deploy Cellec’s technology in a very unique and exciting application.  While many advanced battery companies are promising high energy density, these guys have demonstrated performance in prototypes which have been cycled hundreds of times.”

Dimensional Energy (Cornell) – Transformative CO2 Conversion Technologies

Growing concerns about rising CO2 emissions and related climate change have added urgency to the endeavor of carbon capture and conversion. To do so, Dimensional Energy focuses on creating artificial photosynthetic systems for hydrocarbon production. The technology at the heart of this clean energy startup integrates advanced light harvesting technology with novel nanostructured photocatalysts. While the prospect of mimicking natural photosynthesis to convert sunlight and CO2 to fuels has intrigued scientists and engineers for years, Dimensional Energy is exploring recent breakthroughs in catalyst development as an opportunity to develop CO2 conversion technologies based on materials that nature has not yet had the opportunity to work with.

“We embrace the high-risk, high-reward nature of this challenge as an opportunity to develop potentially transformative CO2 conversion technologies,” said Entrepreneurial Lead Jason Salfi. “The ambitious strategy outlined in our presentation builds on a solid platform of prior engineering and entrepreneurial experience within our team and access to state-of-the-art experimental facilities at Cornell University.”

Doug’s Take: “While it’s still early, the Cornell team has recently started generating promising data in their lab.  During their tenure in NEXUS, they’ve entered the $20MM Carbon XPRIZE competition and have won an Atkinson Venture Award from Cornell.  They are close to marrying their bioreactor and catalyst technologies into a single prototype. I believe they’ll have a very interesting story to tell come demo day.”

Ducted Turbines International (Clarkson University) – Twice the Energy Capture of Conventional Turbines

The Clarkson University team has been busy this summer turning their research into a company called Ducted Turbines International, as well as ordering parts, designing geometry and building the prototype that will soon be tested at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“Waterloo has the size we need to place our turbine test rig right inside the wind tunnel,” said DTI product commercialization consultant Paul Pavone. Pavone and Visser describe how the turbine test rig will provide the data needed to validate the Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling. The design was first generated on a computer, with the help of two Clarkson Ph.D. students to optimize the duct efficiency and performance of the rotor blades. “We’re looking forward to meeting this milestone soon and revealing preliminary data at NEXUS-NY Demo Day in October,” added Pavone.

Doug’s Take: “The Clarkson team appears to be making great technical progress, and has also developed some exciting partnerships. Paul Pavone joined this team through an introduction from a NEXUS-NY mentor, and they’ve recently started working on some manufacturing opportunities with P1 Industries, a company led by NEXUS-NY advisor, Dave Dussault.  All these little pieces came together through the NEXUS-NY program.”

MIMiC / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (CASE) – Modular Indoor MicroClimate

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is working on a technology for localized heating and cooling, which reduces energy consumption and increases occupants comfort. The RPI team, known as MIMiC, plans to go to market initially with a novel modular unit using thermoelectric technologies, which has low energy draw and no moving parts. The technology enables supplemental heating and cooling in a single device without the need to dump heat outside, a huge opportunity to revolutionize portable devices.  

Since the beginning of Phase 2 of the program, we have focused our efforts to strengthen the business case and push forward the functional prototype,” said Berardo Matalucci, PhD Candidate at CASE leading the RPI team. “We understood that there is a clear and compelling business case for novel heating and cooling technologies. However, we need to show a functional prototype to convince our clients that the technology works. We envision a future in which building occupants can set their own preferences without increasing energy consumptions. The NEXUS-NY program has brought us unique help and support to derisk the technology, while accelerating the commercialization process,” he added.

Doug’s Take: “Berardo and his team have made fantastic progress on their prototypes.  This business opportunity carries a lot of technical and market risk, but Berardo and Theodorian continue to make very strong inroads in both areas. They’ve identified a potential pilot customer museum in NYC. Attendees can expect RPI to display a highly refined prototype at Demo Day.”

NanoHydro (University at Buffalo) – Hydrogen Storage & Generation Technology

NanoHydro, winner of the NYSERDA Energy / Sustainability award at the NYS Business Plan Competition, has been engaged in overcoming technical and business milestones during phase 2 of the NEXUS-NY program. At this stage, the team’s biggest milestone has been investigating and validating a process for large scale production. With this research, NanoHydro is looking to move from an expensive gram scale production method, to a kilogram scale production method using an inexpensive precursor. NanoHydro founder Parham Rohani started this research in collaboration with Buffalo Manufacturing Works. NanoHydro is also investigating hydrogen generation performance of their nanomaterial in pellet form.

“We’ve learned several invaluable lessons in this process that will help us in near future,” said Rohani. “In parallel with our lab research, NanoHydro has been deeply engaged in business plan development, customer discovery and market research. We believe that the hydrogen storage market for portable/remote applications is unserved and significant, and that our hydrogen storage/generation technology has great potential to successfully accelerate electricity generation using fuel cells in wide variety of applications,” he added.

Doug’s Take: “Parham knows his hydrogen producing nanomaterials work, the real question is if he can make the material in high volume. That’s why his new partnership with Buffalo Manufacturing Works on scale up is so important. Parham’s technology is being noticed by key customers; he will be presenting at the Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges in Austin, TX this November. This is a great potential funding and collaboration opportunity for NanoHydro.”

Phase Innovations (SUNY Alfred State) – Innovative New Cooling System

The team from SUNY Alfred State has invented an advanced cooling system that uses water instead of chemical refrigerants to cool buildings. Over the last several months, the researchers have formed a company called Phase Innovations and have diligently worked to test many different materials and designs for the development of their advanced prototype.

“We have identified a new class of materials that has a lot of promise for improved performance and cost,” said Entrepreneurial Lead Steve Wood. “The 2-ton cooling module for this initial customer validation prototype is anticipated to occupy a footprint of about one cubic meter.”

Doug’s Take: “We’re really happy with the progress the Alfred State team has made over the last 8 months.  They have a functional prototype and a pilot customer lined up for when they graduate the NEXUS-NY program. You can’t ask for anything more. They are working on membrane heat pump (MHP) technology, one that has been identified as very promising by the Department of Energy..”

Interested in the NEXUS-NY Proof-of-Concept Center?

Cohort 4 applications for the NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Seed Accelerator open on October 18. Researchers and aspiring entrepreneurs will have until November 11 to submit their ideas. Get a head start on the application process!

NEXUS-NY Phase 2: On the Path to Commercialization

7 Clean Energy Research Teams Start De-Risking Technology in NEXUS-NY Phase 2

The difference between success and failure is finding focus as early as possible. This is a primary mission of the NEXUS-NY clean energy seed accelerator, and over the last several months, participants have been developing and testing numerous business hypotheses through interactions with industry participants to find this focus. 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 – a process the teams will continue to explore in NEXUS-NY Phase 2.

As Phase 1 of the program came to a close, each team presented to a room of judges and industry experts to share the latest results around their business opportunities. These presentations played a large role in determining which participants would move onto de-risking their technology by building prototypes and seeking third party validation.

When selecting which teams to advance into Phase 2, NEXUS-NY Founding Executive Director Doug Buerkle said, “We asked the entrepreneurs to convince themselves of the business opportunities first. When that happens, it’s usually easy for them to convince us that they’re ready to move to the next level.”

NEXUS-NY selected several judges from the business community to evaluate the team’s business opportunity pitches. The judges looked for answers to key questions. Some of them included:

  • Is there a large market opportunity?
  • Has the team identified a compelling business model?
  • Is the product unique and compelling?
  • Does the technology promise a major energy impact?
  • Can the team make significant progress in the coming 6 months?

Jim Senall, President of High Tech Rochester, was among the judges. He remarked on the quality of the team presentations as being excellent. “It’s always so impressive to see how much the teams accomplish in just twelve short weeks from the kick-off of the program,” said Senall.

NEXUS-NY is one of the many programs run by High Tech Rochester (HTR). Senall says it’s unique in its statewide diversity of teams, and the high-impact technologies that are being developed. In his experience having watched each cohort participate in Phase 1, some teams learn that their initial assumptions may have been wrong, and that there may not be a market for what they are developing. Senall believes this is a good thing, as teams gain valuable knowledge in months versus years. If one particular idea doesn’t pan out, they have the opportunity to move to a different one.

“Each year the NEXUS-NY teams seem to get stronger and stronger. It’s never easy at the end of Phase 1 to select which teams to move on. It’s usually the market that makes that decision,” added Senall. “We look forward to seeing the others take what they’ve learned in Phase 1 and apply it to their next ideas.”

NEXUS-NY Finalists Represent the Most Promising Clean Energy Technology in NY

The teams moving to the next round of the NEXUS-NY accelerator include: BioƎnergySP, Clarkson University, Cornell, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Alfred State and University at Buffalo.

NEXUS-NY Research Teams | RIT at Cohort 3 KickoffRyne Raffaelle and Brad Sparks are leading the charge of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) team. RIT researchers are working on a novel technology that incorporates patented carbon nanotubes within lithium ion batteries to improve their performance. Sparks says this is what makes their product unique and compelling.

“This has been demonstrated to provide 30-40% more energy than currently available off-the-shelf batteries,” said Sparks. “In particular, this is extremely important for our military and intelligence communities, where extending mission life is critical.”

In addition, the team from RIT is working on a technology that allows these batteries to be stored and shipped safely without charge to meet ever increasing shipping regulations. The core team has been working together for over a decade to develop these technologies.

“We see our primary market opportunities as the military and intelligence communities,” added Sparks. “Specifically, we are looking at developing our high-end batteries for small satellites, remote sensing and unmanned aerial vehicle applications.”

Since joining NEXUS-NY, the RIT researchers have spoken with dozens of potential customers to better focus on the specific market segments. Over the course of the next 6 months in the accelerator, the team will work towards commercialization on the technical side by spending a bulk of their time on improving their initial prototype. Their intent is to reduce the product cost without sacrificing the battery performance. On the commercial side, their goal is to find one or two initial customers to provide market feedback so they can continue to refine their products.

Now in Phase 2, all the researchers will begin building early prototypes and working towards third party validation of customer discovery. Buerkle said, “Typically during Phase 2, teams build prototypes which are aligned with the minimum features that customers want to test based on the interactions they had in first half of the accelerator.”

Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc and Berardo Matalucci represent the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) team. They are seeking to commercialize a novel modular and scalable building system for personalized comfort that can result in energy savings, increased productivity and healthier indoor environments.

RPI presented an early-stage prototype to the judges during the business opportunities event. They are now looking forward to building prototypes that are fully functional, making sure their demonstrations can move from proof-of-concept to real-world applications by verifying their assumptions.

“It’s time to build a complex version of the model. We see it as a portable device, something compact in order to overcome a couple important technical challenges, for example the effects on people and the energy savings,” said Matalucci.

In order to achieve this, the RPI team will take the insights gained from the Phase 1 customer discovery process and from the judges to couple energy efficiency with some other value, having learned that saving energy isn’t as important of a factor to customers as originally anticipated.

“We found that with our product, energy efficiency isn’t a necessity for the customer,” explained Matalucci. “Instead, it’s more important to provide thermal comfort to everyone with  a scalable product, especially one that engineers are interested in.”

Matalucci says this is not a simple task, and there are significant problems his team will have to overcome to deliver multiple benefits, including reducing the installation cost, while still providing high aesthetics.

“We’re close. We have already built something that offers a two-fold value proposition. By providing a system for localized heating and cooling we  can maximize the comfort of people, and on the other side condition a space where and when needed.” This allows our systems to avoid wasting energy, explained Matalucci. “And since our units are stand alone, meaning they don’t need to be plugged into ducts or pipes, which are unsightly, we also reduce installation costs and technical spaces like shafts and drop-ceilings. All of this combined caters to the customer and increases the real estate value of the building.”

Now the RPI team has to focus on being cost-competitive. This is an obstacle they must overcome by somehow containing the return on investment for their modular building systems to five years or less. For larger installations Matalucci says this could be pushed to 10 years, but after that it doesn’t hold the client’s interest any longer.

The team’s last big takeaway was from the judges, who stressed the importance of addressing product customization for manufacturing. For example, if your product is pink instead of gold, or in a circular shape, how customizable you want it to be impacts the costs related to manufacturing. This is a major concern that Matalucci says his team needs to consider – how to contain the cost of manufacturing while offering a product that is customizable.

To help them on their path to commercialization, the RPI team is in the process of hiring a couple of mechanical engineers to work on an advanced prototype. They are also in contact with some students from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer to assist them in moving forward with patenting and funding applications.

NEXUS-NY Partnerships Help Catalyze Commercialization Process

Something that distinguishes NEXUS-NY from other accelerators is the program’s partnerships with business leaders to catalyze the commercialization of novel clean energy technologies.

As a NEXUS-NY Phase 2 activity, NEXUS contracts with Excell Partners to provide due-diligence support for each team. Excell is a Venture Capital Fund that invests in seed and early stage high-tech startups in New York state. Over the next several months, program participants will reveal more of their technology and business plans through a series of presentations to Excell.

“The first presentations will focus on getting to know the teams and technology; Excell will provide initial feedback, indicating where they see deficiencies in the business case,” explained Buerkle. “During subsequent presentations, Excell will have a chance to see how their advice has been implemented before assigning analysts who will work as part of the research team. This is certainly not the typical start-up/VC relationship. This is much more friendly.”

NEXUS-NY Midterm JudgesNEXUS-NY Phase 2 participants will also continue working with the teaching team which includes a few HTR employees plus several serial entrepreneurs who provide strategic and tactical guidance. New this year, NEXUS-NY advisors, are committing a few hours per week to provide additional support to participants. These advisors are all proven entrepreneurs who would typically not have the time to engage in full mentoring roles, yet they have all agreed to provide high level advice and connections. Advisors include: Christine Whitman, Chairman, CEO and President of Complemar Partners; Alex Zapesochny, President, CEO and Cofounder of iCardiac Technologies; David Dassault, Founder, President and CEO of P1 Industries; Mark Barberio, President of Markapital and board member of Buffalo Angels and Rochester Angel Network; John Frater, local entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor at RIT; and Don Golini, Founder of SANICA Ventures and QED TEchnologies International.

NEXUS-NY Provides Direct Financial Support to Program Participants

In partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), NEXUS-NY will continue to provide participants with funding in Phase 2. Each team has been charged with developing a statement of work that will define what they want to do with the funding. The statement includes what customers they would like to pursue for third party validation, and what they want to test.

“Most of the funding is allocated towards building and testing prototypes.” explained Buerkle. “In the past many teams also form legal entities before the end of Phase 2.”

NEXUS-NY offers additional support for its participants to evaluate their IP and that of potential competitors. NEXUS-NY contracts with the NYS Science + Technology Law Center at Syracuse University, which help participants develop custom IP landscape assessments which meet their individual needs.

Mark Your Calendars for NEXUS-NY Team Pitches

At the end of NEXUS-NY Phase 2, teams will present their technology and businesses to a wide audience of prospective collaborators and investors. These Demo Days will be held in western New York and New York City. They are tentatively scheduled for September and October, 2016.

Now it’s time for the teams to get back to the lab, while continuing to engage customers and develop their go-to-market plans!

Interested in applying for NEXUS-NY? The next phase of applications is available between October 18 – November 11, 2016.

9 New NEXUS-NY Research Teams Seek to Bring Energy Technologies to Market

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.

NEXUS-NY New Energy Magazine 2015Starting 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.

Ken Visser, Clarkson UniversityTechnical 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.  

EntrepreAmelia Brown, Clarkson University (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)neurial 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.

Parham Rohani, University at Buffalo (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Naeim Khanjani, University at Buffalo(NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Fred Agyeman, SUNY ESFTechnical 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.

Michael Amadori, Full Circle Feed (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Jon Owejan, Alfred State (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)

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.

Steven Wood (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Jose LozanoTechnical 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.

Adrian Cosma, Simon Business School (NEXUS-NY 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.

Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc, RPI (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Berardo Matalucci, RPI (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

David Erickson, Cornell UniversityScientific 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.

Tobias Hanrath, Cornell UniversityScientific 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.

Jason SalfiEntrepreneurial 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.

Clayton PoppeEntrepreneurial 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.

Raffaelle Ryne, RIT (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Brad Sparks, RIT (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Robert Wright, Binghamton University (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)

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.

Lei Yu, Binghamton University (NEXUS-NY Cohort 3)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.

Sign up for NEXUS-NY newsletters to receive updates on their progress throughout the year, including invitations to Demo Days in New York City and Rochester, NY.

AMBIS Produces First High Fidelity Prototype Panel

NEXUS-NY accelerates the commercialization of New York’s early-stage, clean energy technologies of university researchers and pre-revenue companies by providing educational, financial and business support. Throughout the NEXUS-NY program, the AMBIS team was able to develop a cost-efficient way to cool buildings by upcycling the world’s most underutilized material resources. Take a closer look at AMBIS’ breakthrough technology in the latest edition of NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Magazine.

AMBIS | NEXUS-NY Cohort 2Company: AMBIS (Agricultural by-product Modular Building Integrated Systems)

Website: www.ambis.net

Description:  AMBIS developing building panels from up-cycled agricultural waste targeting varying problems with increasing complexity. Most simply, AMBIS will manufacture “green” building panels without toxic resins. At the next level, AMBIS will add acoustic dampening features to its panels. At the highest level of integration, AMBIS will deliver custom systems incorporating panels with sorption capabilities with integrated sensors that will promote optimal air flow. These components will be integrated along with traditional building environmental control systems in order to minimize HVAC loads. 

Location: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) at RPI in Troy, NY

AMBIS Produces First Panel PrototypeAchievement: AMBIS has produced their first high fidelity prototype panel in partnership with e2e Materials and Ecovative. These early prototypes have lead to what AMBIS hopes to be their first product: acoustic ceiling sorption panels that use a coconut fiber mat for the middle layer. AMBIS is now working with CASE and NEXUS-NY as customers. In partnership with CASE and Rensselaer School of Architecture, AMBIS also won the Rotch Travel Architecture grant to install their panels in a demonstration project in Ghana in August 2016!

Founding Team: Mae-ling Lokko (Founder, Director); Josh Draper (Technical Lead).

“Customers won’t just buy our panels from Home Depot. We’ll help determine their needs, and show them how to integrate these panels effectively,” said AMBIS founder Mae-ling Lokko. “We sell materials, we integrate them into buildings, and we provide long-term environmental monitoring. It’s these three pillars that make up what we do at AMBIS.”

NEXUS-NY Research: With a goal to determine their distinct value proposition of their product, the market research and customer discovery AMBIS performed as part of NEXUS-NY enabled the team to switch from concentrating on coconuts to use what is regionally available, like corn, flax and hemp.

Next Steps: AMBIS hopes to launch in mid 2016. In the interim, the team will secure their intellectual property with a systems patent, as well as continue to build newer and larger panels before testing their sensors at room scale, and developing an app that will deliver critical data from the sensors. AMBIS is also in the process of raising seed funds.

Contact: 917.941.1682 | info@ambis.net