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Cornell University


Friday, July 31, 2015
Phase 2 NEXUS-NY accelerates Cornell technology

Cornell BEST trainee Gabriel Rodriguez Calero, following his involvement in early evaluation of his technology in the Pre-Seed Workshop, wondered where he could get help to further develop his idea while continuing his part-time postdoctoral research, co-advised by Geoffrey Coates and Hector Abruna at Cornell. 

Using connections developed in the Pre-Seed Workshop, Rodriguez Calero formed a team and applied to the NEXUS-NY program, now in its second year of operation. NEXUS-NY is a clean energy accelerator funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administered by High Tech Rochester (HTR) and is one of three NYSERDA-funded proof-of-concept centers chartered with accelerating the translation of clean energy technologies from New York’s research labs into the marketplace. His team was selected in March as one of a cohort of nine business discovery teams to participate in a rigorous and structured program that guides participants towards three primary objectives: to assess product-market fit; to develop proof-of-concept prototypes; and to obtain third-party validation of their business model and technology.

The NEXUS-NY program is run in two phases. The initial phase lasts three months and requires business discovery teams to directly interact with industry participants in order to build and test a viable business model. Rodriguez Calero is working on an alkaline fuel cell membrane technology that enables the use of non-precious metal catalysts. 

After a rigorous presentation-feedback-pitch session highlighting what each team had discovered and accomplished within Phase One of the NEXUS-NY program, Rodriguez Calero's team was selected to continue to the second phase of the program. Since April, they have been working together to de-risk their technology by building a prototype while continuing to engage customers and developing their go-to-market plan. Some teams typically form companies during this period and those companies will seek third party validation of their technologies and business models.

Ecolectro was just recently formed to enable renewable energy applications through material innovations. Gabriel Rodriguez Calero co-founded ecolectro to make renewable energy technologies economically accessible to everyone. They expect that when their prototyping phase is finished they would deliver a value proposition of: 25% less cost, 2x durability, Pt-free, and high temperature operation to their customers (i.e. fuel cell system manufacturers).

"Participants of our inaugural cohort,” says NEXUS-NY Executive Director Doug Buerkle, "have launched seven new startup companies and two of those have received investor term sheets. Follow-on grants have already exceeded $500 thousand and several companies have achieved and/or are working towards a first customer sale and/or successful customer pilot testing. It’s still early, but I expect the second cohort will do even better.”

Read about some of the other companies showing promise in the 2014 issue of NEW ENERGYhighlighting clean energy innovations in upstate New York.

See for more information.