By GREGORY ZELLER //
Several innovators sitting on potentially game-changing technologies have been selected for one of Long Island’s most effective commercialization crash courses.
Stony Brook University has announced the eight teams participating in the 10th annual Innovation Boot Camp, a three-day exercise that surrounds researchers, engineers and other rookie entrepreneurs with customized teams of commercialization experts to help them explore the rigors of business development.
This year’s boot campers represent a diverse selection of scientific fields, with special attention paid to life sciences and clean energy and other teams delving into Big Data and robotics.
Each of the eight “idea champions” – culled out of roughly 15 applicants from across the SBU community and beyond – brings an “outstanding technology” to the table, noted David Hamilton, executive director of the university’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, one of several Innovation Boot Camp sponsors.
“It’s always a tough decision to pick the participants,” Hamilton told Innovate LI. “We have a limit of eight, and we try to space out the technologies between energy, life sciences, mechanical engineering and IT, to get a good cross-section of all the areas that make Long Island research so outstanding.”
The final selectees, he added, are the ones deemed to have “the best opportunity to go forward commercially.”
“The whole purpose of the Boot Camp is to take those commercial opportunities and see if they have the merit to move forward,” Hamilton said.
Not all of the participants (or their tech) originated within the SBU ecosystem. Several campers are outside companies that have been accepted into the CEBIP program, Hamilton noted, while Diane Fabel – director of operations at the university’s Center for Biotechnology, who helped select the life-sciences participants – recommended one science stemming from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, the Northwell Health R&D division that partners with the Center for Biotechnology in the Long Island Bioscience Hub.
All three of the life sciences-themed participants – who are looking to commercialize novel drug-discovery tools, micro-RNA therapeutics and a next-generation brain monitor – display exactly the sort of scientific and economic promise the Boot Camp is meant to foster, according to Fabel.
“They’re great,” she said Tuesday. “They show a lot of potential and they show the entrepreneurial spirit is really growing in this community.”
According to the 2017 Innovation Boot Camp roster, the region’s scientific and entrepreneurial spirits are alive and well. Among the ideas being championed are a “last-mile freight delivery system” aiming to replace up to 1,000 daily truck trips with an “all-electric system that leverages existing infrastructure,” according to SBU, and novel vanadium-flow batteries for “stationary energy storage.”
One idea champion is looking to combine “extreme innovations” in on-site energy-generation and storage; another has created a design kit that allows quick assembly of customizable robots and machines. Those novel drug-discovery tools, meanwhile, look to leverage experimental data to predict protein structures and model the tiniest molecules.
The next-level brain scanner is actually a “multimodality brain-monitoring device,” according to the university, allowing continuous monitoring of cranial pressure, cerebral blood flow, brain oxygenation and other critical factors, while those microRNA-based therapeutics aim to tackle colorectal cancer.
One team is looking to commercialize an “interactive multivariate visualization framework” that one-ups traditional business-intelligence visual-analytics software.
The innovators will be surrounded by helpers including Stony Brook business students and students from the Center for Biotechnology’s Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industries program, as well as energy-commercialization experts from Brookhaven National Laboratory, IP attorneys from Syosset law firm Hoffmann and Baron LLP and a number of industry-specific professionals, all ready to teach the rookies the commercialization ropes.
“For every team, we try to find a person from that industry who can provide real-world advice,” Hamilton said.
The Innovation Boot Camp isn’t a competition – “We all win,” Hamilton noted – and the general idea is to help the participating teams sharpen their elevator speeches and investor pitches, to give them a better shot at raising capital investments later.
Each “idea champion” – the singular head of each team – will offer a short multimedia presentation on the last day, to be critiqued by an esteemed review panel. Although the 2017 panel is still being assembled, Hamilton confirmed the participation of Thermolift CEO Paul Schwartz, Long Island Angels Network board member Samir Nizam and Steve Winick, managing director of Syosset private equity firm Topspin Partners and a longtime supporter of Long Island startups.
The Innovation Boot Camp is scheduled to kick off March 22 at SBU’s Center of Excellence in Information and Wireless Technology, followed by a full day of workshops March 23 and a half day of workshops March 30, followed by the final presentations at the university’s Small Business Development Center.
However those presentations go, the participants can’t help but come out of the intensive camp with a better understanding of the art of turning science into business – and that’s essential, Hamilton noted, even if a science is poised to change the world.
“The whole idea is commercialization,” the CEBIP exec said. “The review panel provides critical feedback on the presentations and business models, and these scientists need that in order to take the next steps.”