Innovation Boot Camp set to hit stride

The $1.5 million question: Stony Brook's CEBIP is ready to keep on incubating, according to Executive Director David Hamilton.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Eight technologies spawned from Long Island’s top research institutions are about to get the boot.

Stony Brook University’s ninth-annual Innovation Boot Camp looms, giving the big thinkers behind potentially game-changing technologies in clean energy, IT infrastructure and biotech a golden chance to test their innovations’ commercialization potential.

The Boot Camp assembles teams of commercialization experts around a particular idea and prepares the innovators – including researchers, engineers and rookie entrepreneurs – for the rigors of business development. The teams include MBAs, patent attorneys, investors and other professionals with bona fide commercialization experience.

Each team also has a coach – a representative of the New York State Small Business Development Center at SBU, for instance – who “makes sure everyone stays on schedule, works on the proper topics and plays nice together,” according to organizer Dave Hamilton.

Hamilton, executive director of SBU’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, said the idea is to combine “entrepreneurs from out in the real world” with niche experts like patent attorneys and apply their combined knowhow to a technology developed, most often, by “a researcher or pre-seed entrepreneur” with limited business experience.

“This brings the Long Island innovation ecosystem together,” Hamilton said. “Innovators get a real sense of the commercialization path their technology must take.”

But the camp is not designed exclusively to usher new tech to market. In some cases, the opposite is true: Researchers discover their new tech is not yet commercially viable, or “more importantly, they learn they don’t really want to be an entrepreneur,” Hamilton noted.

“These are often researchers and post-docs used to doing their research in a lab,” he said. “Now they’re asking themselves, ‘Do I want to be building business plans and figuring out my market 80 hours a week?’”

Not every technology signed up for this year’s camp belongs to business-neophyte post-docs. Smithtown-based Kantian Sciences Corp., a 2015 spinoff of 2012 startup Kantian Skincare LLC, will be looking to leverage existing sales of its over-the-counter acne treatments into a larger marketing strategy.

Also slated to attend are the big brains behind the Neural Tourniquet, developed at the Feinstein Institute, the research arm of health giant Northwell Health. The device applies mild electric shocks to the neural pathways leading to the spleen, priming the body’s coagulation system to clot faster and potentially reducing blood loss in surgical and emergency patients by as much as 50 percent. The research has recently been spun into startup company Sanguistat, cofounded by Feinstein staffers Christopher Czura and Jared Huston.

The other six scheduled campers are fresh from the lab. Included in this year’s eight attendees are technologies stemming from SBU, Feinstein and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Among them is a Stony Brook-developed technology designed to prepare and deposit gold nanoparticles into fuel cells, a catalyst that could boost a cell’s power output while decreasing its cost-per-kilowatt. Also signed up is an SBU-born process that uses nano-metals to remove hydrogen sulfide from contaminated gas streams, a potential boon for on-site electricity generation and natural-gas pipelines.

Other SBU-developed technologies testing their commercialization prospects focus on nanocomposite manufacturing and a new method for targeting “cellular factors” critical to the release of the HIV-1 virus – a potential foray into the global $13.5 billion HIV treatment market.

Also camping out is a proprietary software owned by CEBIP member modelizeIT, designed to model corporate IT environments and solve large-scale problems with power optimization, cloud storage, tech support and security.

A technology born at CSHL, meanwhile, aims to become “the Netflix of high-quality genomic data and biological samples,” according to the developers of the DNA Safe Deposit Box, a networked repository of medical-sequencing data.

Diane Fabel, director of operations at SBU’s Center for Biotechnology and a co-organizer of this year’s Innovation Boot Camp, said this year’s camper crop is particularly strong.

“We have a great group of academic innovators and entrepreneurs, and we are excited to have the Boot Camp help them think through their strategy,” Fabel told Innovate LI. “Robust teams have been assembled to help them through the process.”

This marks the fourth consecutive year Hamilton has had a hand in organizing the camp. Managed through the years by various SBU offices, the program still comes together through the efforts of “a broad spectrum of folks,” Hamilton noted, though the focus in recent years on clean-energy applications is no accident.

When CEBIP was first funded by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority in 2011, NYSERDA agreed to throw an annual stipend toward the Innovation Boot Camp – but only if half of each year’s campers were pursuing clean-energy initiatives.

That was “a perfect fit,” Hamilton noted, citing “wonderful synergies between what CEBIP is trying to accomplish and what the Boot Camp does. We didn’t have to force anything.”

This year’s Innovation Boot Camp is scheduled to begin with a March 2 kickoff at the Garden City Hotel, held just prior the annual Long Island Technology Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Participants will introduce themselves and their technologies and meet their coaches and teams, then make their way to the induction ceremony to “rub elbows with some of Long Island’s greatest inventors and experienced entrepreneurs,” Hamilton noted.

Full-day workshops at SBU’s Long Island High-Technology Incubator will follow over the two subsequent Thursdays, and campers had better be prepared: The Innovation Boot Camp is no vacation, Hamilton warned.

“Running a business is a lot of work,” he said. “And so is the camp. It’s intensive, and it’s not easy.”


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