At CEWIT tech conference, the future is in their hands

Commercial break: Stony Brook University students and faculty with their hands on early-stage technological innovations will test commercial waters at CEWIT in March.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Stony Brook University will flex its innovation muscle in March, bulking up its Technology Commercialization Conference with an entire campus worth of creativity.

The university’s Office of Economic Development is inviting students and faculty to showcase new technologies for possible commercialization, with an audience of potential investors and industry insiders expected to fill SBU’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology.

The Technology Commercialization Conference is not to be confused with SBU’s Incubator Showcase, an annual bonanza that stuffs CEWIT to the seams with a broader array of early-stage businesses – or right there entrepreneurs, ready to launch – churning through the university’s myriad business-development programs.

Instead, the idea here is more intimate – undergrads, grad students and faculty who have clever ideas but are much earlier in the commercialization process, “just starting to explore the commercial opportunities and reach out into the real world,” according to event co-organizer David Hamilton.

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“Ultimately, we hope some of these technologies become new companies, and they join our incubator network,” noted Hamilton, chief operating officer of SBU’s Advanced Energy Center and executive director of the university’s Clean Energy Business Incubation Program.

“But this is more about the technology being developed right now,” he added. “This is a way of showing off the work and all the great research happening at Stony Brook, and showing how these technologies might impact the world.”

Conference organizers plan to review submissions through early February – students and/or faculty are required to submit a one-page abstract describing their innovation, the need it addresses and the scope of its commercial opportunity – with 30-or-so presenters ultimately expected for the half-day conference.

“I’ll review the energy-related applications, to make sure the idea has validity,” Hamilton noted. “(CEWIT Executive Director) Satya Sharma will review the applications related to wireless applications and other IT, and we have faculty from the Center for Biotechnology reviewing all of the biotech applications.

“The more, the merrier,” he added. “We hope to hear from all of the various programs across campus.”

Networking the university’s brightest innovators with possible strategic partners is right in Hamilton’s wheelhouse – both the AERTC and CEBIP prioritize business planning, investor pitching, multimedia marketing and other non-scientific proficiencies critical to business development.

The conference also harkens to that larger CEWIT Incubator Showcase, the annual June bouquet to SBU’s innovation ecosystem, always filled to the rafters with past and current beneficiaries of Hamilton’s AERTC and CEBIP programming.

“The Technology Commercialization Conference is similar to that, but this is more about the researchers – the professors, the post-docs,” Hamilton told Innovate LI. “This is more about opportunity.

“We expect investors, other entrepreneurs and companies that might want to license the tech someday,” he added. “And we hope to see government representatives and other policymakers, so they understand what’s happening at Stony Brook University.

“It’s a great chance to see what’s coming down the pipe.”

The Technology Commercialization Conference is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 12 at CEWIT. Event admission is free but preregistration is required; more information here.