ThermoLift added to WF Innovation Incubator

Paul Schwartz: ThermoLift is benefiting from collaboration, innovation and a big lift from China.

Stony Brook clean-energy startup ThermoLift has been added to Wells Fargo’s Innovation Incubator, a five-year, $10 million program designed to help accelerate next-gen environmental technologies.

ThermoLift will receive up to $250,000 in cash and in-kind technical consultation to help speed clean technologies for commercial buildings to marrket. Launched in 2014, the Innovation Incubator — or IN2 — is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

ThermoLift, a member of the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program at Stony Brook University, is in Phase II development of a natural gas-driven heat pump and air conditioner that would replace building heating, cooling, and hot water systems with a single appliance and save users as much as 50 percent of their energy costs.

“ThermoLift continues to advance its technology and find outstanding partners and funding sources,” noted David Hamilton, the executive director of the Stony Brook program, best known as CEBIP.  “They are well on their way towards commercialization and this award is another exciting validation of their efforts and successes.”

Co-founded by CEO Paul Schwartz, an Innovate Long Island 2015 Innovator of the Year, ThermoLift was one of six added to the Wells Fargo program in this round. In April, Wells Fargo selected four clean technology startups as the first participants in IN2.

In addition to receiving funding for business development, IN2 participants receive financial and technical consultation from a network of experts, as well as research and testing support at NRELs cutting-edge facility in Golden, Colo. Clean technology startups participating in the Innovation Incubator will have their technologies validated in the lab, followed by piloting in select Wells Fargo locations.

While his startup has already enjoyed similar advantages through Long island-based incubators and business-development programs, Schwartz lauded the Wells Fargo opportunity as “national exposure with the potential for international customers.”

“The Wells Fargo incubator was created to look for technologies that fit into commercial buildings that they can implement quickly,” Schwartz told Innovate LI. “They have literally thousands of international properties and we hope to be testing ThermoLift devices in their facilities within 12 to 18 months.”

Additional testing at Wells Fargo facilities, Schwartz added, probably won’t affect his company’s carefully planned research and testing schedule, which includes collaborative work at Chicago’s Gas Technology Institute and field testing at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory over the first quarter of 2016.

Instead, the Wells Fargo testing will give ThermoLift’s heating and cooling units “a fantastic opportunity for exposure into the commercial market,” according to Schwartz.

“The commercial market was always our first target for deployment,” he added. “Deploying in the commercial market will allow us to reach the point where we can scale them for the residential market.”

The Innovation Incubator sources potential program participants from nearly 30 universities and regional accelerator programs that serve as channel partners. A call for applications for the third and final round of awardees will take place in the summer of 2016.

“This program is proving to be highly valuable to both the IN2 awardees and NREL, and we look forward to engaging with the next round of building technology companies entering the program,” said Richard Adams, Director of NREL’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. “IN2 is proving out the model that we had envisioned, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to advance these early stage technologies as well as to offer real-world test conditions in order to optimize their potential for success in the market.”

The other five clean technology startups joining IN2 are:

  • 7AC Technologies of Beverly, Mass. Its Liquid Desiccant Air Conditioning technology reduces electricity and potable water consumption for cooling and heating by 40 percent compared to existing best-in-class solutions.
  • Go Electric Inc. of Anderson, Ind. The firm’s meter energy solutions and services for facilities and utilities integrate renewable energy, advanced batteries, and generators to reduce energy costs, assure energy security, and enhance grid stability.
  • Heliotrope Technologies of Alameda, Calif. The early stage company is utilizing unique, solution-based manufacturing processes for electrochromic devices, with an emphasis on developing low-cost, energy-saving smart windows.
  • NETenergy of Chicago. This thermal energy storage company’s module integrates with small commercial building air conditioning systems to shift energy demand and consumption to off-peak hours.
  • Polyceed, Inc of Encinitas, Calif. The startup is focused on developing novel low-cost, high-tech smart materials whose optical properties can be changed in a predictable and controllable manner. The technology has broad applications from dynamic smart windows to displays and wearable consumer devices.