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Another Day, Another Triumph for Sunthetics Team

Tandon’s Entrepreneurial Powerhouse Wins Big at the University Startup World Cup

Sunthetics team at university start-up world cup

Doctoral student Daniela Blanco and recent alum Myriam Sbeiti won top prize in the Greentech category at the University Startup World Cup

You might not want to think about it when you pull on your favorite tracksuit, but if that comfortable set happens to be made of nylon, your carbon footprint is probably bigger than you’d imagine. Nylon, like certain other synthetic fabrics, is made in an energy-intensive, unsustainable process that uses large amounts of fossil fuel and generates significant emissions of carbon dioxide.

But what if there were a way of eliminating oil from the equation and using water, plant waste, and solar energy instead? That process could revolutionize not just the fashion industry — which produces millions of tons of petrochemical-based nylon each year — but to anyone in the chemical-manufacturing world seeking greener production methods.

Doctoral student Daniela Blanco and recent alum Myriam Sbeiti discovered just such a method while working with Assistant Professor Miguel Modestino of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and their recently incorporated company, Sunthetics, has become one of the brightest stars in NYU’s entrepreneurial firmament.

Mentored by Modestino, Blanco and Sbeiti quickly became exemplars of Tandon’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to encouraging young women in STEM.

Soon after it launched in 2017, Sunthetics began racking up accolades and prizes, including a $100,000 Technology Venture Prize (part of the NYU Stern $300K Entrepreneurship Challenge), the $20,000 top prize in the Innovention Competition at Tandon, and a $20,000 Stage II VentureWell grant.

Last week Blanco and Sbeiti appeared on a global stage, traveling to Denmark to take part in the University Startup World Cup, which attracts dozens of teams from around the world to network with established entrepreneurs and investors, develop and benchmark their business idea, and compete for the title of Best University Startup.

Daniela Blanco and Myriam Sbeiti exuberant in Denmark
Daniela Blanco and Myriam Sbeiti celebrate their win at the University Startup World Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Unsurprisingly, judges at the World Cup were wowed by Sunthetics’ solar-powered reactor, which uses 50% less energy than conventional methods while removing 20% of carbon emissions from the manufacturing process, and the team walked away with the top prize in the hotly contested Greentech category. (If you’re thinking that it must take an impressive level of brilliance to make such a major contribution toward a zero-emissions world, you’d be right: Sbeiti was Tandon’s 2018 valedictorian, and Blanco has maintained a 4.0 GPA over the course of her doctoral studies.)

With Blanco being a native of Venezuela and Sbeiti hailing from Strasbourg, in northeastern France, the duo is firm proof that you can be born anywhere and make it (big!) right here in Brooklyn, at NYU Tandon.