4.26.2015

SEFCU, SUNY Poly CNSE Announce Winning Student-Led Teams in the 6th Annual $500,000 New York Business Plan Competition


Student team ‘UMA Bioseed’ receives $100,000 grand prize for a unique seed coating enabling higher crop yields; Five teams awarded $10,000 first place prizes out of the 500 teams that applied to take part from across New York State

Albany, NY – Supporting Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s blueprint for New York State’s entrepreneurial and high-tech ecosystem, SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY Poly CNSE), in collaboration with Title Sponsor SEFCU, today announced that UMA Bioseed, composed of students from Cornell University, was selected as the $100,000 grand prize winner of the sixth annual New York Business Plan Competition in which more than 500 student-led teams sought to compete at the April 24 final round, held at SUNY Poly CNSE.

In addition to the grand prize-winning team which took first place in the Energy/Sustainability track, five other 1st place finishing teams each took home $10,000 within their respective categories: ACV Metrology from SUNY Poly CNSE for Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology; Trainsmart from SUNY Geneseo for Biotechnology/Healthcare; Volu from Syracuse University for Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit; Think Olio from CUNY - Baruch College for IT/Software, and Four Score Jeans from Clarkson University for Products/Services. SUNY Poly CNSE teams LuxOrioN and Brewminder placed second in the Energy/Sustainability track and third in the Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology track, respectively.

The New York Business Plan Competition drew interest from more than 500 student-led startups, with teams representing 65 colleges and universities pitching their business plans for innovations in a variety of sectors that are growing New York State’s advanced economy, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and clean energy, among others. Competitors represented all 10 of the state’s economic development regions, as defined by Governor Cuomo’s Regional Development Councils that were created to expand economic opportunities throughout New York State.

Title Sponsor SEFCU provided significant support for the competition, in addition to Lead Sponsor NYSERDA; Institutional Sponsors First Niagara and Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR); Friend Sponsors National Grid, Anchor Agency, Center for Economic Growth, Albany Medical Center, New Energy New York, and FuzeHub; Associate Sponsor Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership; Support from Skipso Labs; Supporting in-kind Sponsors Troy Web, Albany Business Review, Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti, Reitler, and CDTA; and Friend in-kind Sponsors Pinnacle, Nixon Peabody, Schwartz Heslin Group, Teal Becker, and NY Excel.

The New York Business Plan Competition was once again presented by SUNY Poly CNSE, the University at Albany’s School of Business, and Syracuse University. A panel of national venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, and seasoned entrepreneurs selected the winning teams.

“SEFCU is proud to once again partner with SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany’s School of Business, Syracuse University, and more than a dozen trailblazing corporate partners to present the sixth annual New York Business Plan Competition, as we aim to encourage entrepreneurship with this powerful program by enabling students to pitch their innovative business plans to investors,” said Michael J. Castellana, SEFCU President and CEO. “This program not only helps to keep students and their businesses right here in New York, it sends the message that a vibrant higher education system is a catalyst to strong economic growth,” Castellana added.

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s leadership in developing educational and business opportunities continues to drive exciting programs like the New York Business Plan Competition, which provides students with an unmatched avenue for bringing their ideas to market,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, CNSE VP of Entrepreneurship Innovation and Clean Energy Programs and Professor and Head of Nanoeconomics. “With support from Title Sponsor SEFCU, in addition to support from NYSERDA, this competition is a critical means for providing students with the chance to bridge classroom learning with real-world business principles to achieve a unique business experience which can lead to lasting success. Moreover, the New York Business Plan Competition underscores the success of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s high-tech agenda for New York State, leading to a burgeoning 21st Century economy and an unmatched ecosystem for research, development, and commercialization that is increasingly keeping New York’s students and their ideas right here.”

UMA Bioseed, led by Cornell University students Margaret Wu, Abhijeet Bais, and Brennan Duty received the $100,000 grand prize, which will support further development of their novel organic crop seed coating solution that destroys pathogens that surround a planted seed. This unique approach can increase crop yield without the use of harmful pesticides or the deployment of genetic modifications to spur healthy seed growth.

“NYSERDA is pleased to support the New York Business Plan Competition, and in particular, the energy/sustainability track, as it holds incredible promise for the development of cutting-edge technologies and business concepts by New York’s top college students,” said NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes. “We commend the students who participated in this competition, and who are representative of the State’s next generation of business and industry leaders.”

“UAlbany’s School of Business is honored to present the New York Business Plan Competition with SUNY Poly CNSE and Syracuse University. It is the perfect complement to the School of Business’s award-winning SEED Program, our Young Entrepreneur's Academy, new educational programs in entrepreneurship, and the state-of-the-art $64 million School of Business building which opened recently, all of which are laser-focused on empowering students with the skills that are crucial for success in the business world that is growing ever more complex,” said UAlbany School of Business Dean Donald S. Siegel. “I applaud our partners, including SUNY Poly CNSE and Syracuse University, as well as Michael J. Castellana, President and CEO of SEFCU, who graduated from the School of Business and serves on the School of Business Advisory Council, for his steadfast support of this powerful competition as a title sponsor, ensuring untold opportunities for New York State’s college entrepreneurs.”

“Syracuse University is excited to partner with SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the University at Albany’s School of Business to provide the sixth annual New York Business Plan Competition as a critical platform for providing one-of-a-kind opportunities for New York’s collegiate entrepreneurs,” said Stacey Keefe, Executive Director of the Raymond von Dran Innovation and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator (RvD IDEA) at Syracuse University. “This competition inspires students to challenge themselves with the creation and deployment of novel business concepts that will undoubtedly prepare them for future business success.”

Teams from the following colleges and universities participated in the final round of the competition: SUNY Polytechnic Institute (including teams from both the Albany and Utica campuses); Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; University at Albany; Skidmore College; CUNY - Queensborough Community College; CUNY - Queens College; CUNY - Baruch College; CUNY - Hunter College; CUNY - Medgar Evers College; Farmingdale State College; Molloy College; Stony Brook University; SUNY Geneseo; Rochester Institute of Technology; University of Rochester; Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Marist College; Culinary Institute of America; United States Military Academy at West Point; Nyack College; Bard College; University at Buffalo; Daemen College; Paul Smith's College; Clarkson University; SUNY Potsdam; Syracuse University; Utica College; SUNY ESF; SUNY Oneonta (Cooperstown Grad Program); Morrisville State College; Hamilton College; SUNY Cobleskill; Mohawk Valley Community College; Ithaca College; Cornell University; and Binghamton University.

Winners of the 2015 New York Business Plan Competition by category and track are as follows:

Grand Prize - $100,000 cash and in-kind services
·       UMA Bioseed, Cornell University

First Place - $10,000 cash and in-kind services
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: ACV Metrology, SUNY Poly
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – TrainSmart, SUNY Geneseo
  • Information Technology/Software – Think Olio, CUNY - Baruch College
  • Energy/Sustainability – UMA Bioseed, Cornell University
  • Products/Services – Four Score Jeans, Clarkson University
  • Social/Non-Profit – Volu, Syracuse University

Esprit de Corps – recognition award
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: Contact, Syracuse University
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – InsertHeals, Ithaca College
  • Information Technology/Software – Travelsee, SUNY Oneonta
  • Energy/Sustainability – ThermoGyze, Queensborough Community College
  • Products/Services – Ashley Parrington Co., SUNY Geneseo
  • Social/Non-Profit – Burlock Thread Works, Bard College

Undergraduate Excellence Award – recognition award
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: Obiex, SUNY Geneseo
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – Comfy Pets LLC, Clarkson
  • Information Technology/Software – MSquare, SUNY Potsdam 
  • Energy/Sustainability – TerraPellets, SUNY Geneseo
  • Products/Services – Powder Partner, Clarkson University
  • Social/Non-Profit – Vets2Farm, Morrisville State

People’s Choice Award - $500 cash
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: CLambeda, University of Rochester
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – iTrex Assisted Walking Devices, USMA West Point
  • Information Technology/Software – Z-Score, Clarkson University
  • Energy/Sustainability – Juice +, Stony Brook University
  • Products/Services – QuickStix, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Social/Non-Profit – The Rochester River Foundation, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Third Place - $1,500 cash
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: Brewminder, SUNY Poly
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – Hospital Heroes, Molloy
  • Information Technology/Software – VISOWORLD, SUNY Geneseo
  • Energy/Sustainability – Underground Greens, Mohawk Valley Community College
  • Products/Services – Chuga Chaga Inc, University at Albany
  • Social/Non-Profit – Cataract Innovations, University of Rochester

Second Place - $5,000 cash
  • Advanced Technology/Nanotechnology: Elektrac, Clarkson
  • Biotechnology/Healthcare – Photozyne Biotechnologies Inc, University at Buffalo
  • Information Technology/Software – RightPrice, Cornell
  • Energy/Sustainability – LuxOrioN, SUNY Poly
  • Products/Services – Royal Meadery, SUNY Cobleskill
  • Social/Non-Profit – Klicka, Skidmore


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SUNY Polytechnic Institute. SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem, formed from the merger of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SUNY Institute of Technology. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineeringtechnology, professional studies, and the arts and sciences at its Utica/Rome campus. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts more than $20 billion in high-tech investments, over 300 corporate partners, and maintains a statewide footprint. The 1.3 million-square-foot Albany NanoTech megaplex is home to more than 3,500 scientists, researchers, engineers, students, faculty, and staff, in addition to Tech Valley High School. The Utica/Rome campus offers a unique high-tech learning environment, providing academic programs in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, with degrees and course offerings in natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences. Thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. SUNY Poly operates the Smart Cities Technology Innovation Center (SCiTI) at Kiernan Plaza in Albany, the Solar Energy Development Center in Halfmoon, CNSE’s Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries in Syracuse, the Photovoltaic Manufacturing and Technology Development Facility in Rochester, and the Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center (STC) in Canandaigua. SUNY Poly founded and manages the Computer Chip Commercialization Center (Quad-C) on its Utica campus and also manages the $500 million New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium, with nodes in Albany and Rochester, as well as the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, Buffalo Information Technologies Innovation and Commercialization Hub, and Buffalo Medical Innovation and Commercialization Hub. For information visit www.sunycnse.com and www.sunypoly.edu.

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