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NYU Tandon Student Prepares to Rock the Entrepreneurial Competition

Daniela Blanco Advances in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards Competition

Daniela Blanco in the lab

NYU Tandon graduate student Daniela Blanco

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) competition is open to university students who have owned and operated a business for at least 6 months. The event website lists the steps involved, from “Apply and compete in a local competition” and “Win a national competition and advance to the GSEA Finals with 50 of the world’s best student entrepreneurs” to  “Win the award and become a rock star business.”

If you know NYU Tandon graduate student Daniela Blanco, you might quibble with that last step. The recent winner of the GSEA New York Regional, she is already a star, and she’s preparing to rock the competition at the nationals in January 2019.

Blanco’s business, Sunthetics, has, in fact, been rocking the world of chemical manufacturing in a major way since its launch in 2017.

Sunthetics — co-founded with Tandon alum Myriam Sbeiti (‘18) and the help of Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Miguel Modestino — has developed a method of using water, plant waste, and solar energy to manufacture nylon, instead of the fossil fuel currently used. The company provides an alternative path to manufacturing a chemical intermediate for the material, and their solar-powered reactor uses 50% less energy, less raw material, and produces less waste, while removing 20% of carbon emissions.

The founders envision the process being of interest to not just the fashion industry — which produces millions of tons of petrochemical-based nylon each year, thereby generating significant emissions of carbon dioxide — but to anyone in the broader chemical-manufacturing world seeking greener production methods.

The GSEA win is only the latest in a long string for the young entrepreneurs: Sunthetics has already garnered 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, a $20,000 Stage II VentureWell grant, and top prize in the hotly contested Greentech category of the University Startup World Cup.

 “We’re excited that a company born right here at our school and founded by students is making such an impact on a global scale,” said NYU Tandon School of Engineering Dean Jelena Kovačević. “We’ve been cheering them on as they triumph in competition after competition, because in a very real sense, when they win, the whole world wins. Everyone benefits when carbon emissions are reduced, and their work perfectly illustrates the way Tandon is innovating to solve problems of global importance.”