By Casey Verderosa
If one thing was clear from the enormous turnout at Rev’s February 21 Networking Night, themed The Future of Clean Energy, it was that “energy generates energy,” according to moderator and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Brian Bauer.
The packed audience was treated to refreshments, networking, and a panel of clean energy leaders, sponsored by the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator and Corning, Inc.
Attendees heard from Lindsay Anderson, a Cornell associate professor in biological and environmental engineering who is spearheading a new Engineering Research Center. The ERC will connect disciplines to determine the logistics around integrating green technology like rooftop solar and electric cars into smart energy grids. The center’s novel approach involves connecting engineers with social scientists, because, as Anderson said, “It turns out that the device is not actually a solution. Change has less to do with the technology but has everything to do with consumer perception.”
The evening’s panel included leaders of three companies working on the frontlines of clean energy. Michael Oshetski is CEO of Micatu, which develops optical sensor technologies with next-generation measurement capabilities for smart grid, wind, power, transmission, and condition monitoring applications. “We better operate the grid, especially in regard to CO2reduction,” Oshetski said. In 2016, the company was the grand prize winner of NYSERDA’s 76West Clean Energy Competition.
Last year Micatu landed a big contract with Eaton Corp., a Dublin, Ireland-based power management company. His clean energy business is growing quickly as Oshetski is hoping to hire 50 more people next year. “We’re fundamentally changing an industry and that’s really attractive to people,” he said.
Shailesh Upreti’s company, C4V, optimizes the performance of Lithium-ion batteries and won $500,000 in the 2016 76West Competition. Currently, Upreti said, “the batteries themselves are green but manufacture of them isn’t that green.”
C4V is changing that, although it’s playing a long game. Development of its technology takes eight years, with another five more to bring it to market. Having to make such an intensive time investment leads Upreti to advise always remaining connected to your end-user – your customer – in order to make investments worthwhile. The company is now building a large factory in Endicott, New York, birthplace of IBM.
Parr Wiegel is CEO of Ekostinger, which develops aerodynamic systems for tractor-trailers and was another grand prize 76West winner, this time in 2018. “Every time we put a system on, it’s equivalent to taking an SUV off the road,” said Wiegel. Immediately after winning 76West, the company landed a major trucking deal.
A self-described serial entrepreneur, Wiegel noted, “I’ve learned more working with Brian [Bauer] and NYSERDA than I can explain and I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 17.” Drawing from such a long history of entrepreneurship, Wiegel advised startup founders in the audience to “be tenacious. You’re going to hear ‘no’ a million times.”
The application cycle for Round 4 of the 76West Clean Energy Competitionis open through April 15, 2019. Winners receive prize money to grow their businesses in New York’s Southern Tier region, with a grand prize of one million dollars.
More deadlines are looming. Applications are also open for Rev’s Hardware Acceleratorsummer program, as well as for Hardware Scaleup, a program out of Rochester-based Nextcorps that helps entrepreneurs go from prototype to mass production.Join us for our March 19 Networking Night: Women, Money, and Tech, c