NYSERDA Announces New Proof-of-Concept Centers at Columbia University, NYU-Poly and High Tech Rochester to Facilitate Clean-Energy Business Growth

$15 Million Award Will Fund Three ‘Idea Incubators’ to Bring Commercial Success to Clean-Energy Ideas

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded a total of $15 million to Columbia University, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and High Tech Rochester to create three Proof-of-Concept Centers dedicated to helping inventors and scientists turn their high-tech, clean-energy ideas into successful businesses.

NYSERDA will invest $5 million in seed money at each center over a five-year period, with cost-sharing required. The centers are expected to operate on their own after NYSERDA funding ends.

Centers will link business experts and early-stage investors with scientists making new discoveries. The new entities – “idea incubators” for very-early-stage entrepreneurs – will fill a gap between the maturing of an idea in a research environment and the creation of a business. Governor Cuomo announced the Proof-of-Concept Center competitive proposal process last May. 

“These centers will take innovation to the next stage, by connecting inventors and scientists with business mentors and potential investors,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, these centers will help turn good clean-energy ideas into cleantech companies ready to advance toward commercialization, which will in turn provide economic development and investment in New York’s cleantech industry.”

The three Proof-of-Concept Centers will be created by:

• Columbia University (New York City), which will open the Downstate Regional Energy Technology Accelerator. The organization is partnering with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University and Cornell University’s NYC Tech, a new campus located in New York City.

• High Tech Rochester Inc., (HTR) a non-profit venture development organization based in the Rochester area, which will open the NYSERDA Proof of Concept Center to serve Western and Central New York.  HTR will work with a number of academic partners including: University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Research Foundation, Alfred University, Cornell University, Clarkson University and the University at Buffalo, as well as multiple industry and investor partners.  

• Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), which will partner with the City University of New York (CUNY) to create the New York City Clean Economy Center for Proof-of-Concept. The organization, called PowerBridge, and the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) will partner in an applied science research institute that focuses on challenges specific to an urban environment.

“We appreciate the trust that NYSERDA has placed in Columbia and our partner institutions,” said Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University President. “Across these campuses, schools and academic disciplines, our researchers have been pioneers in developing a wide range of sustainable technologies and clean energy solutions. With this grant NYSERDA is making a major investment in the people and ideas that can address one of the most fundamental long-term challenges facing our nation and our world, while continuing to foster the community of entrepreneurs that can create jobs in our city and our state.”

“High Tech Rochester is excited to be a part of this important NYSERDA initiative to accelerate the creation and growth of clean-energy startups across the state,” said James Senall, HTR president.  “Together with our university, industry and investor partners, we look forward to helping catapult New York State into the national spotlight as a clean-energy leader.” 

“The PowerBridge proof-of-concept-center is an important element in creating and fostering transformational entrepreneurship. With promising clean energy technology emerging from NYU-Poly, NYU, CUNY and others, and thanks to this exciting partnership with NYSERDA, we are pleased to connect researchers with investors, customers and partners who make this regional ecosystem so dynamic,” said Katepalli Sreenivasan, NYU-Poly’s Provost and NYU’s Senior Vice Provost. “NYU and NYU-Poly are committed to supporting start-up emerging technology ventures that will benefit the urban environment. This new center will enhance our entrepreneurial culture to drive new businesses, jobs and innovation, placing New York City at the forefront of the clean economy.”

In addition to the Proof-of-Concept Centers, NYSERDA has provided support for additional clean energy entrepreneurship initiatives including:

• NYSERDA’s incubator program, which funds six centers around the state supporting dozens of new cleantech start-ups.  These sites have worked with 94 clients in the past three years, helping the start-ups raise a total of $74 million in private funds while creating 48 new products and 193 new jobs.
• NYSERDA’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, which provides dozens of expert entrepreneurs to mentor leaders of early-stage cleantech businesses; NYSERDA Clean Tech Execs program, which seeks to educate experienced entrepreneurs about business opportunities available in the clean energy sector; and Green Capital Empire, a NYSERDA-sponsored initiative to attract early-stage capital to clean energy businesses in New York.

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.