Judges

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Edward Bogucz

Executive Director, SyracuseCoE

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Kathryn Cartini

CMO, Upstate Venture Connect; Partner, Chloe Capital

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James Guzewich

Managing Director, Eastern New York Angels

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Richard Honen

Partner, Office Leader, Phillips Lytle LLP

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Marnie Lavigne

President & CEO, Launch NY

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Michael Lefebvre

EVP, Public Policy, Planning & Incentives

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Robert Manasier

Entrepreneur-in-Residence, INNOVATE 518

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Thomas Murdock

GM, Western New York Incubator Network (WIN)

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Arber Ruci

Director, New York City Innovation Hot Spot

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Ken Schlafer

Direct Assistance Program Manager, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I)

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Noa Simons

Executive Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York

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Matt Watson

Director, Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation

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Speakers

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Joshua Aviv

Founder and CEO, SparkCharge

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Julianne Clouthier

Industry Engagement Manager, FuzeHub

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John Cococcia

VP Strategic Marketing and Investor Relations, Plug Power

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David Dussault

CEO, P1 Holdings, Inc.

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Daniel O'Connell

Rochester Operations Site Manager, Plug Power

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Daniel Walczyk

Director, CATS

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Joshua Aviv - Founder and CEO, SparkCharge

FuzeHub Commercialization Winner in 2017 and 43North Winner of $1M Prize

Joshua is a certified Data Scientist and the Founder and CEO of SparkCharge, a company specializing in the portable charging of electric cars. His experience in entrepreneurship and startups spans over 6 years and he is a dynamic figure in the cleantech community. Joshua is also the most recent winner of North America's largest pitch competition 43North.  Joshua holds B.A. in Economics and a Masters in Information Management from Syracuse University.


Edward Bogucz - Executive Director, SyracuseCoE

Dr. Edward Bogucz is Executive Director of SyracuseCoE, designated in 2002 as New York State’s Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. SyracuseCoE catalyzes research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects to develop and accelerate commercialization of innovations for cleaner energy, healthier buildings, and more resilient communities.

Under Dr. Bogucz’s leadership, more than 200 firms and institutions have been engaged in SyracuseCoE collaborative projects, which have helped to create or retain more than 1,000 jobs in New York State. Previously, Dr. Bogucz served more than eight years as Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University. He earned Ph.D. and B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University, and an M.Sc. degree in heat transfer engineering from Imperial College, University of London.


Kathryn Cartini - CMO, Upstate Venture Connect; Partner, Chloe Capital

Throughout her career, Kate has witnessed the birth of Charlotte’s startup ecosystem, embedded herself within the hustle of Boston’s high-growth activity, and returned home to help rebuild Upstate NY through entrepreneurship. In addition to Chloe Capital, Kate is the CMO of entrepreneur-led nonprofit Upstate Venture Connect, and the owner of Peacock Media, LLC.

In these roles Kate excels as a startup mentor, promoter and ecosystem builder – having connected hundreds of founders with investors. Learn more at KathrynCartini.com


Julianne Clouthier - Industry Engagement Manager, FuzeHub

Julianne Clouthier is the Industry Engagement Manager for FuzeHub. She oversees the Manufacturing Innovation Fund including the design and implementation of the Fund’s new divisions which will comprise a commercialization competition and an innovation challenge. She will also work to forge business relationships to support manufacturers’ connection with New York State’s assets and private resources.

Julianne has ten years of economic/community development experience and was formerly a Development Director for Beacon Communities LLC in the Albany, NY office. Julianne also spent six years with New York State Homes and Community Renewal/Office of Community Renewal where she was instrumental in managing a large portfolio of Community Development Block Grant funds among municipalities and businesses throughout the state. Prior to that Julianne worked in Economic Development for Cornell Cooperative Extension through the Montgomery County Agriculture Economic Development Project where she created a variety of programs to assist farm businesses and value-added producers.


John Cococcia - Business Development, Plug Power

John works in Business Development at Plug Power, a leader in the commercialization of fuel cell products and technologies. At Plug, John is responsible for identifying new growth initiatives, strategic partnerships and M&A opportunities, as well as growing the Company’s institutional investor base.

John is also a co-founder and Managing Partner of Arista Strategy Group, a strategic consulting firm serving high-growth technology companies. Prior to Plug, John was COO at DHA Energy, and prior to DHA, John was a Co-Founder and Partner at FA Technology Ventures, a $100 million early stage venture capital fund, where he was responsible for nine early stage investments covering the Software, Internet and Cleantech sectors.


David Dussault - CEO, P1 Holdings, Inc.

David is the founder and CEO of DHA Holdings, Inc. (DHA), a high tech investment company that builds global businesses in the manufacturing and technology sectors with a focus on industrial markets. DHA is hands-on; building new businesses and expanding market share with an active role in daily operations. His responsibilities span all aspects of strategic planning, operations and brand; including organizational design and implementation, business development, value management, financial planning and investment strategies, team formation in addition to operational oversight and quality systems.

As founder of DHA and its portfolio companies, David has successfully designed and managed multiple company lifecycles from start-up to growth and maturity for 4+ businesses over the last eight years. His strengths include active strategic initiatives, operational design and deployment in addition to team formation.


James Guzewich - Managing Director, Eastern New York Angels

Jim has served in a number of financial and executive management roles in his professional career. In 2013, he retired from the Versatrans Division of Tyler Technologies where he spent ten years (the last two years as President), a software company located in the Albany, New York area. Versatrans provides school transportation and planning software solutions for K-12 schools throughout the US and Canada.

Jim is an angel investor and was a founding partner of Tech Valley Angel Network, which helped identify and introduce entrepreneurs to angel investors in upstate New York’s Tech Valley region. He is currently a Managing Director of Eastern New York Angels, a fund focused on providing capital and mentorship to start-up companies in the Tech Valley.


Richard Honen - Partner, Office Leader, Phillips Lytle LLP

Mr. Honen is the Venture Capital & Technology Practice Team Leader and Partner in Charge of the firm’s Albany office. He focuses his practice in corporate, finance and venture capital law, as well as complex commercial litigation. Mr. Honen provides corporate counsel to a broad spectrum of companies from start-up to Fortune 50 and has lectured extensively, particularly on topics of corporate law, venture capital and angel investing. He also represents companies in complex commercial litigation matters.

Mr. Honen has served as an adjunct professor at Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University), where he taught Business Law to MBA candidates, and has guest lectured at Albany Law School of Union University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University at Albany, Ithaca College and Johnson School of Management at Cornell University. He is also acknowledged to be one of the early practitioners of nanotechnology law in Upstate New York, as reported in a March 2003 article in the New York Law Journal.


Marnie Lavigne - President & CEO, Launch NY

Dr. Marnie LaVigne, President & CEO of Launch NY and Executive Director of the Emerging Cleantech Incubator (ECO), has spent more than 25 years in both the private and public sectors creating new products and start-up businesses, driving innovation and economic growth in high-tech industries, such as life sciences, informatics, and advanced manufacturing.

In 2014, she became the President and CEO of Launch NY, a nonprofit venture development organization she co-founded with other ecosystem partners and whose mission is to identify, support. and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture of Upstate New York. Serving more than 825 companies comprising over 2700 jobs since 2012, Launch NY provides pro bono mentoring and the most active seed fund in Upstate NY. Launch NY was selected by NYSERDA to introduce the ECO Incubator in 2018.


Michael Lefebvre - EVP, Public Policy, Planning & Incentives

Michael Lefebvre is an Executive Vice President at Empire State Development (ESD) overseeing public policy, research and many of ESD’s incentive programs. For over 20 years Mike has built a career that has capitalizes on his extensive experience in policy and program development and financial operations.

Before returning to ESD in 2016, Mike held executive positions at the New York State Office of the Attorney General the New York State Senate and he has held roles at General Electric and a number of state agencies including the NYS Department of Health and Homes and Community Renewal. He holds an M.P.A. from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and a B.S. in Accounting from SUNY Albany.


Robert Manasier - Entrepreneur-in-Residence, INNOVATE 518

Robert Manasier is a serial entrepreneur currently serving as Entrepreneur-in-Residence of INNOVATE 518 (the NYS Innovation HotSpot Program), UAlbany Innovation Center, IgniteU and the Sage Colleges. Robert also sits on the Board of the In Focus Brands' portfolio of funds and companies, Tech Valley Center of Gravity and SparkSaratoga.


Thomas Murdock - GM, Western New York Incubator Network (WIN)

Thomas (Tom) Murdock is GM of the Western New York Incubator Network (WIN), a state-authorized consortium of ten business incubators that connects more than 200 early stage ventures to the students, resources, and facilities of the University at Buffalo.  Since program inception in 2014, WIN has provided direct assistance to companies raising $50M in outside capital and creating 170 new jobs. 

Previously, he served as Senior Director of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership with responsibility for the organization’s communications, membership, and insurance departments.  Before transitioning into economic development, he held roles in management consulting at Deloitte Consulting LLP and in marketing management at United Technologies Corporation.  He holds a BS in Business Management from Miami University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. 


Daniel O'Connell - Rochester Operations Site Manager, Plug Power

Mr. O’Connell joined Plug Power in 2018 as Site Manager of the Rochester Operations. Daniel oversees the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) operations in Rochester NY. Mr. O'Connell was previously the Co-Founder and CEO of American Fuel Cell (AFC). Plug Power acquired AFC to obtain a deeper understanding of MEA design and manufacturing. He also was previously the Co-Founder and COO of Standard Hydrogen Corporation.

Mr. O’Connell began his career with General Motors in 1977 and retired as the Director of Advanced Technology Demonstration Vehicles in 2013. He led the deployment of the Chevrolet Electric Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCEV) “Project Driveway” and the Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) “Customer Advisory Board” vehicle fleet programs. He was responsible for all Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and Electric Networked Vehicle (EN-V) platform demo fleets. He had responsibility for the US DoE Tech Val and the German CEP FCEV fleet programs. He was also responsible for implementation of the Hydrogen Infrastructure plan for demo fleet deployments and designed/procured/permitted/installed 12 hydrogen refueling stations as well as the >50 Electric Recharging Stations for the initial Volt Fleet deployment. He oversaw 8 vehicle repair/maintenance facilities around the globe. Mr. O’Connell remains active with NYSERDA, FCHEA, DoE, DoD, DOT, Oak Ridge National Lab, NREL, and others to promote the Hydrogen economy.


Arber Ruci - Director, New York City Innovation Hot Spot

Arber Ruci is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the NSF I-Corps NYC Regional Innovation Node, and the Director of the New York City Innovation Hot Spot. Arber was CEO of an Internet-of-Things startup for 8 years. He also spent five years as a student, staff member, and vendor at Stanford University, where he was immersed in the lean startup methodology, the entrepreneurship training program run by NYCRIN and NYC Innovation Hot Spot.

He has been an Industry Mentor for two National I-Corps teams and is the co-Principal Investigator of an NSF PFI.


Ken Schlafer - Direct Assistance Program Manager, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I)

Ken Schlafer is a program manager at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at Rochester Institute of Technology. He works with NYS industries to reduce cost and environmental impact, provides consulting support for sustainable supply chain, and conducts product evaluations designed to have a positive impact on the environment.

Ken has over 25 years of diverse industry experience, including purchasing, service and delivery, marketing, supply chain, applied engineering, and manufacturing. He has a strong background in data analytics, industrial engineering and Lean Six Sigma. These previous experiences allow Ken to drive business results, reduce environmental impact, and provide cost saving initiatives.


Noa Simons - Executive Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York

Noa is the Executive Director of Upstate Capital Association of New York, a non-profit dedicated to increasing access to capital in Upstate New York. In her role, she manages a robust membership network and convenes events on technology, trends and best practices for dealmaking to a wide-ranging audience including investors, entrepreneurs, service providers and professional advisors. She is also co-founder and manager of the Hudson Valley Startup Fund, a member-managed seed capital fund investing in companies with high growth potential.

Prior, Noa was a partner at TD Growth Capital based in Shanghai, China. Her investment work included worldwide technology sourcing, market analysis and diligence on deals both inside and outside China. Before joining that firm, Noa was interim CEO at Norton Motorcycles in Portland, Oregon and built and launched the digital archive housed at the Mary Ferrell Foundation.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Economics and Latin American Studies from Brandeis University.


Matt Watson - Director, Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation

Matthew Watson has extensive experience in organizational management, program development, policy, and advocacy. His twenty-year career includes senior and executive roles in the public and private sectors.

Currently, he serves as the director of Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (ESD/NYSTAR), the state economic development division responsible for advancing science, technology, and innovation in support of industry growth and competitiveness.


Daniel Walczyk - Director, CATS

Daniel F. Walczyk, Ph.D., PE is Director of Manufacturing for the Center of Automation Technologies and Systems and also a Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical , Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. He received a B.S. from Syracuse University in 1986, a M.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1991, a P.E. License from New York State in 1994 and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996, all in mechanical engineering.

Prior to his graduate work, Dr. Walczyk worked for seven years industry, primarily with the GE, as a mechanical design engineer. Since becoming an academic in January 1996, he has received several awards and honors including a DAAD Fellowship (1995), NSF Faculty Early CAREER Development Award (1998), Loctite Corporation Summer Engineering Faculty Fellowship (1998), and a Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (1999), SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in the Aerospace Category (2000), and ASME Fellow (2011). He is also a holder of five U.S. patents and two pending.

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