Intellectual property workshop, June 25

Cornell Engineering alum and international intellectual property law expert, Frank DeCosta ’85, will lead a workshop for those interested in safeguarding their inventions and technology. The workshop is hosted by Cornell Engineering’s Commercialization Fellowship.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

10 a.m – noon

Upson Hall Room 102

For more information or to register, visit the workshop website.

Cornell to administer Grow-NY contest for food, ag startups

Say the words “New York” to people from outside the state, and more than likely their first thought will have something to do with the Big Apple – New York City. But the Empire State is known for its little apples, as well.

Graduate student Ananda Fontoura conducts dairy research at the Cornell University Dairy Science facility.

According to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, more than 7 million acres of New York – or about 20% of the state’s land – is farmland. Nearly 36,000 family farms have helped the state rank No. 2 nationally in the production of apples, snap beans and maple syrup, and in the top 10 in 30 commodities overall.

New York is a leader and an innovator in both agriculture and food production, and Cornell is partnering with the state to foster more growth in those spaces.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced May 31 that entries are being accepted for Grow-NY, a business competition and support program for innovative, high-growth startups in food and agriculture.

“New York’s agricultural industry is one of the best in world, and the Grow-NY competition will attract innovative startups focused on this industry to put down roots in upstate New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By bringing in new companies to find new ways to transform our state’s food and agricultural industry, we are continuing to bolster these regional economies and foster growth in this critical industry statewide.”

“New York has among the best food products in the world, and the agricultural industry is an important part of our upstate economy,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement May 31 in Rochester. “Continuing to build on our investments in agriculture, we’ve launched the Grow-NY competition to fund and support startups in the industry. We are committed to fostering innovative ideas, boosting job growth, and promoting our farms and agricultural products that will further strengthen the economy.”

Scheduled for 2019, 2020 and 2021, Grow-NY will distribute $3 million in awards each year, including a $1 million award, two $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards. Mentorship, incubator space and other services will be provided to support the startups.

Cornell impacting New York State

Grow-NY, expected to be one of the largest food and agriculture business competitions in the nation, will leverage existing resources in the rapidly growing food and agriculture innovation cluster in the Finger Lakes, central New York and Southern Tier regions of the state. Winning companies will be required to operate in these regions for at least one year and execute bold plans to grow jobs, connect with local partners, and contribute to a thriving upstate economy.

“Grow-NY is a tremendous opportunity to fuel growth in New York’s farm and food economy through spurring innovation across our local food systems,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “By supporting entrepreneurship, the Finger Lakes, central and Southern Tier regions of New York can drive creation and sale of delicious and healthy local food products to meet the changing tastes of consumers and help New York lead the way as an innovation hub in the local food movement.”

Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) will leverage its experience managing the state’s 76West Clean Energy Competition to administer the competition, with support from organizations across the state including Cornell AgriTech, its New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture, and Cornell Cooperative Extension programs.

Tom Schryver, executive director of CREA, speaks at the Grow-NY contest announcement May 31.

“As a top-10 national institution for entrepreneurship with a top-five global agriculture school, Cornell is passionate about fostering startup growth and advancing breakthrough innovations in food and agriculture,” said Tom Schryver, executive director of CREA.

Funding for Grow-NY will be provided through Empire State Development and the Upstate Revitalization Initiative organization connected with each of the three regions – Finger Lakes Forward, CNY Rising and Southern Tier Soaring.

Applications for the 2019 competition opened May 31 and will be accepted through July 15. A panel of industry judges will trim the applications down to a group of up to 20 finalists, who will receive mentorship and a curated, complimentary business development trip spanning the three regions this summer.

Finalists will pitch their business ideas at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, to be held Nov. 12-13 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The summit will include the live pitch competition, an awards ceremony announcing the winners, a symposium hosted by the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture, and an exhibition featuring more than 100 innovative food and ag businesses and industry resources.

Visit the Grow-NY website to learn more.

Molly Israel is a marketing strategist at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Commercialization Fellows Set Sights on Tech Solutions

Five students will examine the business prospects for a diverse array of Cornell technologies – including a cryptocurrency model, spine treatment, computer vision algorithm, and materials for high-powered electronics and microfluidic devices – as the newest class of commercialization fellows.

The fellows, all engineering doctoral students, will spend a fully funded semester and summer exploring the commercial viability of their respective technologies. From intellectual property management to supply chains, the fellowship offers a deep and personalized experience in learning what’s needed to bring products to market.

Engineering doctoral student Jen-Yu Huang, M.S. ’18, one of this year’s cohort of Commercialization Fellows, is exploring the commercial viability of a light processing technique to create programmable mesoporous materials for microfluidic devices.
Engineering doctoral student Jen-Yu Huang, M.S. ’18, one of this year’s cohort of Commercialization Fellows, is exploring the commercial viability of a light processing technique to create programmable mesoporous materials for microfluidic devices.

The 2019 fellows and their technologies are:

Jake Gemerek, M.S. ’19, sensor control for autonomous perception – a control algorithm for camera networks that can be used to autonomously gather information, such as tracking a person through a crowd, detecting dangerous situations on a construction site, discovering optimal locations to place advertisements and monitoring animal migrations to protect endangered species.

Austin Hickman, aluminum nitride-based power transistor – a transistor that can amplify signals above 100 gigahertz, which is critical for fast data transmission in next-generation (6G) wireless communication systems, as well as in self-driving cars that must map their surroundings in real time. This new level of performance is enabled by the thermal and electrical advantages of aluminum nitride over other materials, such as silicon and gallium nitride.

Jen-Yu Huang, M.S. ’18, light-patternable porous material in microfluidic devices – a light processing technique to create programmable mesoporous materials – materials with precise patterns of pores – that can be integrated into medical devices for bioseparation and point-of-care diagnostics. Potential applications include creating a device to purify drugs and a device to detect rare cells.

Ariah Klages-Mundt, designing decentralized finance – a platform to test, simulate and design stablecoins – digital cryptocurrencies designed to hold stable trading value. In addition, Klages-Mundt has developed a fundamentally new stablecoin design that involves buffered responses to extreme events such as market fluctuations.

Stephen Sloan, M.S. ’18, injectable intervertebral disc treatment – a high-density collagen gel that can be injected into a patient with spinal cord and nerve root compression due to intervertebral disc degeneration. The gel is engineered to prevent reherniation and promote tissue healing following a procedure that often causes complications after the removal of diseased tissue.

David Erickson, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Cornell Engineering, said it’s been exciting to see the visibility of the program – now in its fourth year – grow along with the college’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“What we’ve seen over the course of the fellowship is a greater breadth in both the types of technologies that are being explored and the students that are engaging in the program,” Erickson said.

Fellowship lead instructor Tom Schryver ’93, MBA ’02, executive director of the Center for Regional Economic Advancement and a visiting lecturer at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, said the program has been “a great catalyst for growing awareness and education around commercialization across campus – not just for the fellows each year, but for teams of MBAs and other students they interact with as they undertake their market assessments.”

A new feature of the fellowship is the incorporation of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps), which has the same goal of exploring the market potential of new technologies and connects university faculty and students with resources for pursuing the next step toward commercialization. NSF I-Corps provides the fellows with training to do customer discovery interviews that test hypotheses about the market potential of their technologies, as well as funding to conduct those interviews across the U.S.

Syl Kacapyr is public relations and content manager for the College of Engineering.

Networking@Rev: True Confessions From Our Entrepreneurs-In-Residence

Join Rev: Ithaca Startup Works and their entrepreneurs-in-residence for Networking@Rev: True Confessions on June 13 from 6-8:30 p.m. at Rev’s headquarters in downtown Ithaca.
The event will feature confessions from Rev’s entrepreneurs-in- residence about their biggest regrets, missed opportunities, and what they learned from it all.
For more information or to RSVP, visit the event website.

Cornell’s Entrpreneurship Ecosystem: What’s New and What’s Next

*Registration is not required.

Friday June 7, 2019 | 10 – 11 AM | eHub, Kennedy Hall 

Entrepreneurship is at the core of Cornell University- thank you Ezra! Join the Cornell Entrepreneur Network at the new eHub Kennedy Hall, launched in 2016 for a special Reunion event. Get an overview of the entrepreneurial ecosystem happening at Cornell and hear about some of the latest initiatives! There will be an opportunity for Q&A, as well as networking and refreshments.

Add to your Reunion 2019 itinerary!

Learn more about the Cornell Entrepreneur Network.

CU Entrepreneur of the Year Shows Power of Persistence

Schleifer, the 2019 Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year who majored in biological sciences as a Cornell undergrad, shared the successes and failures he experienced while growing his biotechnology company, Regeneron, during an April 11 conversation with Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. Schleifer was on campus to be honored during Celebration, Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s annual two-day conference.

“I have this notion that as long as I can see some light, no matter how long the tunnel is, I am willing to get back on the horse,” Schleifer said, after showing a graph that depicted his company’s profits and losses over the years. He called the graph “26 years until we made more money than we spent.”

“We fell down three times,” Schleifer said, “but somehow it just seems like failure is part of the research game, just as it’s part of life.”

Today, Regeneron is one of the world’s leading biotech companies, with seven FDA-approved treatments and 20 experimental medicines to help patients with eye disease, heart disease, allergic and inflammatory diseases, pain, cancer, infectious diseases and rare diseases.

Regeneron was founded 30 years ago after Schleifer – then an assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine – noticed that all of the interesting research he was reading came from companies like Genentech.

“I went to my mentor and said, ‘What about starting a company to take on neurologic diseases?’” Schleifer said. “[He] said, ‘That’s a stupid idea. Get back in the lab and do something good.’”

Schleifer was undeterred (“I’m fairly stubborn,” he said) and he moved ahead, raising $1 million in venture capital and filling his board with physicians and scientists.

“The science had to drive everything that we did,” he said.

Originally tackling two drugs for Lou Gehrig’s disease, then another focused on obesity, the company was running out of money, but continued to hunt for breakthrough drugs.

They hit the jackpot with Eylea, a drug to treat macular degeneration and other eye diseases; Dupixent, which treats atopic dermatitis and asthma; Libtayo, which targets squamous cell cancer of the skin; and four other drugs.

“Our success is measured in the patients we’ve helped,” Schleifer said, as he shared some success stories: a man about to enter hospice care whose tumors went away after six weeks, allowing him to return to a normal life; and a young girl who had a debilitating skin condition covering most of her body and is now able to enjoy her life.

Schleifer touched on creating “miracles,” and the need for entrepreneurs in his field to be more interested in a promising lab discovery that might not bring in money for five to 10 years than the latest sales figures for an existing drug.

He also shaDr. Leonard Schleifer ’73, the 2019 Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year, talks with Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, April 11.red some advice for startup founders.

“Young entrepreneurs aren’t lacking brains, enthusiasm or commitment, but the one thing they’re lacking is experience,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that you don’t know everything and to find people who have that experience and are willing to work with you and teach you.”

He also emphasized the importance of finding good partners and the willingness to do things your own way and stick to your convictions, even when the markets or the industry say otherwise.

“This is a great country that is willing to finance good ideas,” he said. “But you have to be persistent and pound the pavement.”

Schleifer, who received his medical degree and a doctoral degree in pharmacology from the University of Virginia, founded Regeneron in 1988 and is its president and CEO and a board member. He is also a licensed physician, certified in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell. This story appeared originally in the Cornell Chronicle on April 15, 2019.

New Class is a Win-Win for M.Eng. Students and Local Startups

Robert Newman, a Senior Lecturer in Engineering Management in Cornell’s College of Engineering, had some specific objectives when he launched the new class ENGMT 5940: Economics and Finance for Engineering Management.  He wanted to ensure that graduating engineers had the fundamental skills and vocabulary to speak confidently and professionally with upper management and corporate finance departments regarding projects.  He also wanted to ensure his Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) students were exposed to a wide variety of real-world situations requiring economic analysis and work with senior management.

One important focus of Cornell Engineering’s M.Eng. degree, no matter which school or department offering the degree, is to give students exposure to the work professionals do in their field, day in and day out. According to Newman, for students earning their M.Eng. in Engineering Management, that means “applying economic principles within an engineering environment—as this gives students more context about how projects are evaluated in a real company.”

While preparing to teach the class, Newman called his colleagues Brad Treat and Ken Rother. Both Treat and Rother are heavily involved with a business incubator and workspace in Ithaca called REV: Ithaca Startup Works. “Classes I teach are not prerequisites for anything but life,” says Newman. “I want my students to get skills they will be able to apply right away. I knew that Brad and Ken would be able to help me find companies with real questions my students could help them answer.”

Rev logoThe companies Rother and Treat found to support this collaboration, Iko Systems, Heat-1, Kingsley Quality Woodworking, ShrubBucket, and Wicked Devices, are all members of Rev.

Newman spent the first third of the semester making sure the students had the fundamentals and the tools they would need in order to communicate well and to give these companies the answers they were looking for. And then the students spent the rest of the semester working closely in small teams alongside representatives of the companies, digging into vexing problems and coming up with answers.

Dirk Swart, CEO of Wicked Device LLC, says, “This was one of our most successful student engagements—maybe even the most successful. They were a good team, they did the job we needed them to do, and they communicated clearly…Rob (Newman) did a good job of setting them up for success and they were able to take it from there.”

Chelsey Kingsley, CEO of Kingsley Quality Woodworking Incorporated adds, “I wanted some outside perspective and expertise to define some of our obstacles and find solutions. The questions the students asked provided me an opportunity to clarify my own thinking and their input helped me see some aspects of our process and pricing that I had not addressed before.”

Newman reports that “in all five cases, the CEOs or business leaders say they gained valuable insights into their companies that they did not expect and all five are eager to work with student groups again.”

So it is clear the first semester of Newman’s new class was a success from the companies’ point of view. But how about from the student perspective? Engineering Management M.Eng. student Mridul Chulet , who worked closely with Iko Systems, found the experience valuable. “I would recommend this class to engineering students who want to learn the basics of economics and finance and then have a chance to apply those basics in the real world,” says Chulet. “I learned how engineers make economic decisions and I liked being exposed to financial statement analysis.”

Manu Khandelwal, also an Engineering Management M.Eng. student, was in a group that worked with Chelsey Kingsley. He had an excellent experience. “Applying the course knowledge to help a small business make better decisions was a very hands-on, unique, and satisfying experience,” says Khandelwal. “We developed a basic pricing and decision-making model to save time and money. Moreover, just going through the process of introspection was beneficial for the business, as it highlighted the importance of reviewing and updating the existing process.””

“I am very happy with how the class went this first time out,” says Robert Newman. “The CEOs and students are happy too, so I would say it was a great success. I am thankful to all of the companies that helped make this class so worthwhile.” Newman will teach the class again in the fall of 2019.

Cornell Computer Science Alum Featured on Podcast

Euwyn Poon was born in Singapore and moved to Canada as a young lad. His entrepreneurial tendencies and drive were evident at a young age. He entered Cornell University at the age of 15. After graduating with a degree in computer science, he went to Cornell Law School. It was during a sabbatical from Simpson Thacher, a top NYC law firm, he got the entrepreneurial bug and joined Y-Combinator. Euwyn is a great observer of the inefficiencies that surround us and turning them into business opportunities. He started Spin after a trip to China. Less than two years later, he sold it to Ford Motor Company.

Hear the full episode here.

NY Business Plan Competition Deadline Approaching

The New York Business Plan Competition is the only leading collegiate business plan competition that is a regionally coordinated, collaborative, statewide program. With thousands in prizes, it is one of the largest collegiate business plan competitions in the world.

** THE BUSINESS VENTURE MUST BE AT LEAST 80% OWNED BY A STUDENT

Dates to remember:

  • 2/1/19 – Applications Open
  • 4/3/19 – Applications Due
  • 4/10/19 – Presentations Due
  • 4/13/19 – Regional Competition in Binghamton
  • 4/26/19 – State Competition in Albany