Skip to main content
Cornell University


Saturday, November 08, 2014
High Tech Rochester Pre-Seed Workshop hosts Cornell team

Cornell postdoc Gabriel Rodriguez-Calero is one idea champion among 13 teams accepted from over 30 applicants to High-Tech Rochester's latest Pre-Seed Workshop. Ranging from MEng-led UofR students to experienced ex-Kodak executives, each innovator is capitalizing on the collective expertise of over 100 participants who are helping research and analyze the commercial potential of each high-tech idea. At the end of the two day session, enough intelligence will be gathered to answer the question as to whether it is worth investing another 1,000 hours to reach the next critical milestones. Rodriguez-Calero's idea is a novel fuel cell energy storage system using an alkaline media reversible fuel cell to produce hydrogen. By moving to alkaline media, the tie to expensive platinum and gold electrodes is replaced by cheaper nickel and other non-precious metal materials to significantly reduce the device cost without influencing performance metrics. Other members of Rodriguez-Calero's team include a SUNY Geneseo student who has already started a clean-tech company, two UofR students who are contributing hours of market research, two subject matter experts in the fuel cell and cleantech arenas who have assisted in the formation of or created their own companies, and an intellectual property lawyer who has already participated in 14 Pre-Seed Workshops to guide researchers in discovering the patent landscape around their field of invention.

Other Cornell participants at the Pre-Seed Workshop include Michèle van de Walle, Industrial Partnerships Director of the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR), who is assisting a recipient of the Jump-Start Program, Molecular Glasses, championed by Michel Molaire. His idea is to provide non-crystalizable organic semi-conductors to OLED and organic electronics manufacturers for use in commercializing stable and long-lived displays, lighting products, organic solar cells, and thin-film transistors.

On November 14, each team will present a ten-minute presentation on their basic technology and what they learned through the Pre-Seed Workshop process, along with their conclusion for what their next steps should be. Presentation reviewers, which include successful entrepreneurs and experienced seed-stage investors, will provide comments and suggestions to the Idea Champions. Such feedback has helped form more than 170 new start-up companies over the last ten years, but more importantly has saved untold years of frustration for those who discover their initial ideas are not well suited for commercialization. See for more information.

  The thirteen teams emanated from Rochester, Ithaca, and Syracuse to evaluate university based technologies in the fields of IT, smart lighting, medical devices, diagnostics, cleantech, and more.