PowerBridgeNY | cleantech proof-of-concept center
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August, 2015
Updates and Upcoming Events
Dear subscriber,

It looks like summer has finally arrived here in NYC – I hope you are all finding ways to stay out of the heat! We have been staying cool indoors to conduct a number of events this past month, and are looking forward to keeping up the momentum as we head into the opening of the Cycle 3 applications.

Cleantech I-Corps Finale
On July 15th in collaboration with New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN), we completed our first Cleantech Summer I-Corps cohort. After having completed 10-15 interviews per week for 5 weeks, the 8 participating teams from NY, CT, PA, and DE once again came to the Urban Future Lab in Brooklyn to present on their lessons learned and reveal their final Business Model Canvases.

In an exit survey, all of the respondents reported that they had learned a tremendous amount in the program and had a better understanding of who their target customers are and value their technology brings to these customers. They also indicated that the feedback from the teaching team both during the interactive class sessions as well as during the external office hours were invaluable. We would therefore like to thank all of the teaching team members again for volunteering their time and expertise to the participating teams.

The teaching team was also quite impressed with the level of commitment of all of the teams, who conducted a combined 401 interviews over the course of the 5-week program! We look forward to offering this program next summer as well.

Incorporation Skills Lab
Last week our Cycle 2 awardees attended their first "Skills Lab."  Jay Hickey from Mintz Levin presented on how to incorporate, some things to consider before incorporating, how to divide up equity, and ways to avoid the most common mistakes early-staged startups make, among other topics. Afterwards, the teams were invited to stay for one-on-one office hours with Jay and Evan Bienstock, also of Mintz Levin, to discuss whatever legal topics were on their minds, including licensing IP from the home institution, having foreign investors/employees, and creating fair capitalization tables. We would like to thank Jay and Evan for joining us and giving a great presentation!

$1,000 Idea Grants
We are excited to announce an addition to our Cycle 3 program that we are calling “Idea Grants.” In order to generate more applications while also ensuring that the applications we receive are eligible and appropriate for the program, we are requiring interested applicants to submit a one-page document that answers a few key questions about the project. The PBNY Internal Steering Committee will review those submissions and let the applicants know if they should submit a pre-proposal. They will also have a chance to speak with the PBNY team one-on-one to ask questions about the program and receive feedback to increase their chances of impressing our Judges.

Submissions that are encouraged to submit a pre-proposal application and do so will receive a $1,000 gift certificate. We encourage the teams to use the funds to conduct some initial customer interviews and host a few brainstorming sessions for their team to prep for the pre-proposal.

Many of the technologies being developed at the partner institutions have a number of potential applications, including some less obvious cleantech ones. Therefore we would also like to challenge current researchers who do not think they have a “clean technology” to brainstorm with their team and come up with a cleantech application for their research to submit for an Idea Grant for their chance to earn $1,000.

For more information on the Idea Grants, please have a look at the “Cycle 3 Idea Grant Application” document found on our website:

We look forward to reading about the great ideas in these submissions in the coming months.


Jim Aloise

Director | PowerBridgeNY

Cleantech I-Corps Instructor Award

Chetali Gupta of Team 6 Lignopolymer Dispersants won the Instructors Award for her relentless pursuit of customer interviews and her ability to synthesize and translate the data gathered in those interviews into meaningful insights.

Back row, left to right: Heidi Anderson (Industrial + Technical Assistance Corporation), Nicholas Querques (NYSERDA), Blake Stevens (Harris and Harris Group), David Hamilton (Clean Energy Business Incubator Program), Micah Kotch (NYSERDA)
Front row, left to right: Christina Pellicane (NYCRIN), Rene Baston (City University of New York), Ryan Murphy (Solvay), Newell Washburn (Carnegie Mellon University), Chetali Gupta (Carnegie Mellon University), Jim Aloise (Columbia University / PowerBridgeNY), John Blaho (City University of New York)

Team of the Month

MEAn Technologies: Higher Power Density PEM Fuel Cells Using Nanotechnology

Last week we visited Stony Brook University to see Miriam Rafailovich’s Cycle 2 awardee team, which includes Ron Tabbitas, Mike Rubino, Wayne Gutschow, and Corrinne Graham (pictured below). The team is working on validating their coating for fuel cell membranes, which would allow for significant cost reductions and increased power densities in the cells. The team has been provided with membranes from both Ballard and Fuel Cell Etc so that the team can coat them and return them for testing and validation. We look forward to hearing about the results of those tests, which would mark a major milestone on the path to commercialization if successful.

In addition to hearing about the team’s progress on their PBNY milestones, we also had the chance to interact with a group of high school students participating in the Simons Summer Research Program. The students were working on a variety of projects related to the gold nanoparticle coating used in the fuel cell coating technology currently being developed with the support of PowerBridgeNY. We were quite impressed by not only the technical skills of the students but also their ability to clearly communicate the value of their efforts to a lay audience. 

While part of the mission of PBNY is to help commercialize specific technologies, we also have a broader mission of influencing how research is thought about and conducted. We hope that the education in the lean startup methodology that we have been providing to our Cycle 2 team will in turn affect how they teach their students, encouraging them to think more about who the end users for these breakthroughs might be and what their needs are. We look forward to seeing the results of the student research influence the direction of the PBNY project! 

Top row: Miriam Rafailovich, Ron Tabbitas, Mike Rubino
Bottom row: Wayne Gutschow, Corrinne Graham

Graduate student Hong-Fei Li explains one of the projects  the students are working on
Sun, August 2nd - Fri, August 7th
NY Excel: Boot camp for Cleantech executives and entrepreneurs
Learn more

Tuesday, August 4th
Strategies for Deploying Energy Efficient Technologies 
Register ($5-$10)

Wednesday, August 5th
NYU Summer Launchpad Demo Day 2015
Register (free)

Thursday, August 6th
Silicon Alley Networking at the Gansevoort Park
Register (free)

Wednesday, August 12th
SunShot Catalyst Jamathon 
Register (free)

Thursday, August 13th
Storms! Floods! Heat Waves! A Discussion of Climate Change Impacts in NYC
Register ($5-$10)

Wednesday, August 12th
Opening the Loop: Examining Net Positive Water in NYC
Register ($5-$10)

View our web calendar for more events »
Visit Twitter: @PowerBridgeNY