SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry among nine Nexus-NY Proof-of-Concept Center Program awardees for turning clean-energy ideas into early-stage products; SUNY developing process to convert organic waste into high-value biomaterials

Sandy Yang

Sandy Yang

May 21, 2014 – New York State Energy Research & Development Authority

ALBANY, New York , May 21, 2014 (press release) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first round of awards from the New Energy Xcelerator in UpState NY (NEXUS-NY), a Rochester-based proof-of-concept center established to move clean-energy ideas from the laboratory to market in order to help grow successful businesses in New York State. The program supports the development of New York’s cleantech economy by creating jobs and businesses focused on emerging clean-energy technologies. Through the awards announced today, nine teams of scientists will work with NEXUS-NY to commercialize their cleantech innovation.

“These awards will spur innovation Upstate and allow researchers to transfer their work from the laboratory to the commercial sector, creating jobs and moving New York closer to a clean energy future,” Governor Cuomo said. “I congratulate these nine recipients and look forward to seeing their ideas made reality."

The advancing teams were chosen from an initial pool of 56 applications from scientists and researchers interested in commercializing business ideas in the clean energy field.

Nexus-NY is one of three proof-of-concept centers announced by Governor Cuomo to help researchers turn their clean-energy innovations into successful commercial products in New York State. This announcement demonstrates the state's interest in creating clean-energy jobs and business start-ups.

NEXUS-NY participants receive approximately $55,000 in funding, mentoring and other business support to develop an innovative cleantech product first conceived through research taking place in New York State. In addition, subject to availability of funds, Excell Partners, a regional seed fund, has committed to invest $150,000 in one or more teams emerging from NEXUS-NY.

Nexus-NY is managed by High Tech Rochester and partially funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

"New York State is continuing to grow its cleantech economy, as demonstrated by this proof-of-concept center and by Governor Cuomo's support for a full range of innovative energy programs," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "By funding this initiative, the State is helping spur innovative new product development as researchers take clean-energy technology beyond the lab, begin the process of commercialization and build the clean-energy companies of tomorrow."

NYSERDA provided seed money in January 2013 to Columbia University, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and High Tech Rochester to create proof-of-concept centers dedicated to helping inventors and scientists turn their high-tech, clean-energy ideas into successful businesses. The funding – $5 million for each of the three organizations – is for five years, after which the centers are expected to operate on their own.

NEXUS-NY specifically addresses the critical phase that occurs between research and commercialization, providing financial and other support to early-stage technologies for the validation of its commercial potential.

“Our program has been well received by aspiring clean energy entrepreneurs throughout New York. We’re very pleased with the progress made by these teams,” says NEXUS-NY Executive Director Doug Buerkle. “As we move into Phase II, the advancing teams will hone their business and partnership plans as they endeavor to become viable and sustainable businesses.”

Teams that submitted proposals were required to interview at least 50 potential customers, suppliers and industry experts and to develop a “minimally viable prototype” to help test their hypotheses for an energy-saving innovation with commercial potential.

Teams will be eligible for additional financial and mentor support, and will conclude with “demo day” presentations in Rochester and New York City.

Columbia University and NYU-Polytechnic School of Engineering are operating proof-of-concept centers downstate jointly under the name PowerBridgeNY, which recently selected 13 early-stage clean-energy projects to take part in the first year's funding.

The nine NEXUS-NY teams are:

Finger Lakes
Low-Power Dehumidification and Moisture Reduction -- Hydratics, West Henrietta

Patent-pending technology will use an electrostatic process to remove moisture from materials or air, with first application being low-power, no-heat food drying to provide significant energy savings compared to other methods.

Advanced Power Management (APM) -- Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology

The APM system actively controls electrical loads to help reduce operating costs and improves overall environmental performance of large power systems.

Fuel Cell - Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) -- David Wetter Consulting; Kelson Solutions, Victor
The MEA will enable fuel cells to be mass produced and provide low cost, highly efficient electricity generation capability. The unique formulation and process will leverage existing thin film, high volume equipment and a highly capable, New York supply base.

Central New York
Biomaterials from Cellulosic Waste -- SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry (ESF)

ESF is developing a proprietary process that converts organic waste into high-value biomaterials.

Southern Tier
Quantum Dot Synthesis -- Cornell University
This technology provides a low-cost method to make novel materials for use in LED lighting.

Nanowire Fabrication Technology -- Cornell University
This technology allows low-cost manufacture of semiconductor nanowires for use in energy-storage devices.

Condition Monitoring sensor -- Micatu Inc., Painted Post
Proposers seek to commercialize a multi-point sensor solution for use in rugged environments to monitor operating efficiency of industrial equipment. Wide deployment of these sensors will improve the energy efficiency and longevity of industrial and energy producing processes.

Capital Region
Advanced Architectural Ceramics -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The High-performance Masonry System ("The Better Brick") is an energy-managing building facade system that integrates ceramic materials and advanced digital design to achieve significant energy savings.

System for Mitigating Power Loss -- University at Albany
Operating under the name Green Fox Technologies, applicants are working on equipment that would allow electric utility operators to “load shape” the grid by controlling equipment that produces or consumes electricity on the premises of individual ratepayers.

With this latest initiative, New York’s role as a leader and first mover in shaping the future of energy remains firmly in place. By developing innovative market solutions, the State is delivering on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to transform the energy industry into a more resilient, clean, cost-effective and dynamic system. Working with State, citizen and industry-stakeholders, the way of doing business in New York is moving to a more market-based, decentralized approach. This means preserving the environment, decreasing energy costs, and creating opportunities for economic growth for current and future generations of New Yorkers. In advancing these new energy systems and solutions, New Yorkers will have improved energy affordability and efficiency without sacrificing the ability to live in a cleaner, resilient and more sustainable environment.

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