FuzeHub Announces First Round of 2023 Grant Awards to Support Innovations in Manufacturing throughout New York State

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Susan Bardack
Phone: (518) 867-7940

Patty Rechberger/FuzeHub

Biannual FuzeHub’s Manufacturing Grants program awards $500,000 in grants to facilitate research and development, technical advancements and process improvements for New York State manufacturers.


Watch the announcement here.

(Albany, NY – April 13, 2023) – FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization providing small- to medium-sized manufacturers with guided access to an extensive network of industry experts, programs and resources to solve business growth challenges, recently awarded ten collaborative projects through its Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund.

The Innovation Fund, consisting of more than $1 million annually, supports a set of activities designed to spur technology development and commercialization across New York State.

As part of the Fund, FuzeHub offers Manufacturing Grants to New York State not-for-profit organizations, including higher education institutions, that propose innovative projects in partnership with a New York State small to medium-sized manufacturer. Project categories cover adoption of new technology to enhance a process and/or product, prototype development, design for manufacturing, proof-of-concept manufacturing, certain equipment purchases, manufacturing scale-up, and other projects to advance manufacturing capabilities.

In addition, the Innovation Fund is used to provide assistance to early-stage companies through FuzeHub’s annual Commercialization Competition, which takes place in the fall.

The Innovation Fund is made possible through funding from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). Since 2022, funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) allows FuzeHub to support additional awards benefiting start-up companies.

“Some of the projects in this round have the potential to be truly transformational, and it is very exciting to be part of their journey as they develop, test and scale their products, especially since more than half of the awarded teams include startups. It is crucial that they get support early on” said Dr. Heidi Knoblauch, interim director of NYSTAR. “We also see a wide range of technologies and industries, as well as a nice geographical spread across the state. One cannot miss the level of innovation and cross-collaboration coming from New York State.

“We are happy to see a focus on sustainability, as well as the desire to solve some very pressing problems. From agriculture to medical issues to industry 4.0, this is such a well-rounded list of projects. Since the pandemic, we have seen an increase in partnerships amongst organizations in different regions, and this opens a new set of opportunities for collaboration. That is exactly what these grants were made for.”

– FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc.

FuzeHub is pleased to announce the grantees:

Tech Valley Center of Gravity/Uncaged Innovations Inc. | $50,000 (Capital Region/Mid-Hudson)

Reimagining Leather Using the Power of Nature and Technology

The fashion industry is under tremendous pressure to lower its environmental impact, and over 70% of a brand’s environmental footprint comes from the materials they source. Uncaged Innovations is a biomaterials technology start-up company that combines the power of nature and technology to reimagine leather, which is one of the most damaging materials used by the fashion industry. The company’s leather alternative is vegan, plant-based, and biodegradable. Uncaged Innovations will use the FuzeHub grant to scale up the manufacturing of their innovative material. Providing a sustainably manufactured replica of animal hides will redefine the leather industry.

Cornell University, Center for Life Science Ventures/Agrynex, Inc. | $50,000 (Southern Tier)

Scale-up and process development for manufacturing an enzyme-based foliar biochemical pesticide

Agrynex, an AgTech start-up company, is collaborating with the Center for Life Science Ventures, Cornell University, to scale up and improve the manufacturing process for a new and effective naturally derived foliar pesticide to control plant diseases. Successful development of this technology will provide an innovative and valuable tool for managing crop diseases. The non-toxic and biodegradable foliar product can be applied in conventional and organic farming operations. The NYS based company’s mission is to leverage their foliar crop protection and other products in the pipeline to increase profits for farmers by reducing crop losses and adding value to agricultural crops while decreasing the use of existing toxic pesticides – a boon to NY farm workers, consumers, and the environment.

CEIS – University of Rochester, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences/ Thermal Expansion Solutions, Inc. dba ALLVAR | $50,000 (Finger Lakes/Central NY)

Titanium ALLVAR Alloy Manufacturing for Optomechanical Sub-Assemblies

The ultimate goal of this project is to accelerate adoption of novel ALLVAR Alloys by demonstrating they can eliminate the detrimental effects of temperature changes on an optic’s performance. The effect of temperature on optics is particularly complicated because lenses change the way they bend light with temperature and each lens material changes at a different rate. This means that while an optic’s metal housing is growing and shrinking with increasing and decreasing temperatures, the lenses are also shifting focus depending on the lens’ materials. If successful, future applications for these alloys include sensors for autonomous vehicles and fiber-couplers and beam expanders for fiber-optics.

The Research Foundation of SUNY on behalf of University at Buffalo, Department of Computer Science & Engineering/Starco Lighting & Ellicottville Greens | $50,000 (Western NY)

Enhancing multi-channel linear LED lighting fixtures with advanced AI vision system for early health condition evaluation of plants grown in controlled environments

Starco Lighting and Ellicottville Greens have partnered with Drs. JinJun Xiong & Sreyasee Das Bhattacharjee from UB’s Computer Science & Engineering Dept. to design and manufacture an Artificial Intelligence vision system to detect diseases and monitor plant health of indoor crops. Starco Lighting offers a line of horticulture lighting that allows users to tune the spectrum of up to 10 different wavelength channels. Ellicottville Greens produces indoor vertical farm containers that are modular and self-reliant. These grow container systems enable the production of high-quality greens (ex. lettuce, basil, cilantro) anywhere, regardless of climate. Starco Lighting expects to launch an AI vision integrated tunable grow light by Q2 of 2024 and expects sales revenue of $1M-$2M/year and to increase their employment count by up to 7 employees over the next 2-4 years including technicians and engineering positions.

CITEC Business Solutions/Structural BioComposites | $50,000 (North Country/ Capital Region)

Industrial Hemp Lumber Material Characterization

Structural BioComposites (SBC) was an idea born out of a desire to save the forests and help reduce deforestation by producing industrial hemp lumber. This award will support SBC’s efforts to become a leading manufacturer of Industrial Hemp Lumber, which is a dimensionally consistent, arrow straight, tree-free building material devoid of the natural defects associated with forest service products, which means less waste, easier installation and shorter production cycle times. Industrial Hemp Lumber is a self-extinguishing, rot resistant and insect resistant engineered structural member designed to save residential contractors and builders time and produce a high-performance home with finer build quality. After establishing valuable proven products, the suite of goods and techniques established by SBC could be franchised to establish textile mills and Industrial Hemp Lumber manufacturing hubs in each state in the USA.

TDO/Taro Manufacturing Company, Inc. | $50,000 (Central NY)

Portable Manufacturing Pods (PMP)

Taro Manufacturing will be creating a new paradigm shift in manufacturing by developing sustainable Portable Manufacturing Pods (PMPs) that can provide significant reductions in costs, energy, and carbon footprints for manufacturing. PMPs create a portable manufacturing environment out of large 40-foot shipping containers. The shipping containers will have a large array of solar panels mounted above them and battery storage below. Inside will be specialized automated machinery to produce a single high-volume product or part. Targeted products are simple pieces that are currently made overseas. Raw material will be delivered in one end of the container, processed inside automatically, and retrieved from the other side. The entire container is configured not just for Industry 4.0 – but for Mobile Industry 4.0.

Mohawk Valley EDGE/ANDRO Computational Solutions, LLC | $50,000 (Mohawk Valley)

SecondNet ― Intelligent Coordinated Emergency Management for School Facility Rapid Alert & Threat Response

Industry lead ANDRO Computational Solutions, LLC of Rome, in collaboration with not-for-profit economic development partner Mohawk Valley EDGE, introduces SecondNet – a new concept in intelligent, coordinated emergency management for rapid alert/response to mitigate active threats in schools and other public spaces. ANDRO is adapting their SPEARLink radio developed for the Army, together with ancillary technologies from Swidget, Inc. to conduct proof-of-concept pilots to demonstrate the new capability. School violence and active shooter threats are rapidly escalating. There is an urgent need for reliable personal communication devices that provide real-time situational awareness during crisis situations. SecondNet fills current technology gaps and assures that the needs of our school community and any public space are met. SecondNet will demonstrate an unparalleled breakthrough in rapid alert/response that will save lives.

The Research Foundation for the State University of New York, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics/JelikaLite Corp. | $50,000 (Central NY/New York City)

Integrated platform for measuring and reducing symptoms of ASD

SUNY Upstate Medical University will conduct a placebo-controlled clinical trial with 40 autistic children (ages 2 to 10). The study will measure the impact of novel technology – transcranial photobiomodulation – on the behavior, communication and social skills of participants. Transcranial Photobiomodulation means shining near-infra-red light through the skull, using a wearable device with embedded LEDs. The treatment is non-invasive and has no known side effects. The study will use Cognilium wearable device, developed by JelikaLite Corp., to deliver the treatment. In 2021, Cognilium was awarded FDA breakthrough device designation.

Rochester Institute of Technology, KGCOE: Mechanical Engineering/Advanced Gene Transfer Company | $50,000 (Finger Lakes)

Scale-Up Nanomanufacturing of Carbon Nanotube Arrays for Cell-Based Therapies

Advanced Gene Transfer Company is partnering with Rochester Institute of Technology’s Mechanical Engineering Department to create carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays to create cell therapies. Cell-based therapies have incredible potential to treat diseases, including cancer, but current processes are limited, inefficient, and expensive. CNT array technology overcomes many limitations of current genetic material delivery methods at a fraction of the cost. State-of-the-art manufacturing processes used in the semiconductor industry will be utilized to scale up the production of CNT arrays for clinical use.

ITAC/Fit to Forge, Inc (DBA Cohesive Robotics) | $50,000 (New York City)

Industrial Design and DFM for the Smart Finishing Robotic Workcell

The Smart Finishing Robotic Workcell from Cohesive Robotics is a game-changer for autonomous material removal and surface finishing tasks. Designed for high-mix manufacturing and fabrication operations, the complete turnkey workcell solution will perform common material removal processes on nearly any part, of any quantity, and with no programming required. This project plays a critical role in maturing the overall system for introduction into a production shop floor environment. It focuses on design for manufacturing (DFM) and improvement of the system integration and functional safety aspects to accelerate commercialization and availability to manufacturing customers across industry sectors, including aerospace, renewable energy, heavy equipment and general fabrication.

Round 2 of the Manufacturing Grants opens on April 17. The deadline to apply is May 16. The application period for the Commercialization Competition is set to open in July, and Competition finalists will pitch live at the Saratoga Springs City Center on October 16 & 17.

For more information about the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, visit www.fuzehub.com/innovation-fund/ or contact Patty Rechberger, innovation fund manager at [email protected].

About Jeff Lawrence
During his more than 20 years at the Center for Economic Growth, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate in the Capital Region where he served as executive vice president and MEP Center Director, Jeff Lawrence directed programs of direct assistance to manufacturers and technology companies to increase their competitiveness. He is remembered for being an invaluable and generous mentor to many in the area’s business community and a tireless advocate for manufacturing innovation throughout New York.

About FuzeHub
FuzeHub is a not-for-profit organization that connects New York’s small to medium-sized manufacturing companies to the resources, programs and expertise they need for technology commercialization, innovation, and business growth. Through our custom assessment, matching, and referral platform, we help companies navigate New York’s robust network of industry experts at Manufacturing Extension Partners centers, universities, economic development organizations, and other providers. FuzeHub is the statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) center, supported by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation. For more information on FuzeHub, visit fuzehub.com.

About Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR)
Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) mission is to advance technology innovation and commercialization in New York State. NYSTAR’s programs are designed to enable new and existing businesses to become more competitive through the use of innovative technologies, and emphasize the importance of working with industry to leverage the state’s technology strengths. Through funded programs that support world-class technology research at colleges and universities, NYSTAR works to promote a robust network of industry-university partnerships throughout the state. It administers the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides direct technology assistance to small to-medium sized manufacturers. For more information on NYSTAR programs, visit www.esd.ny.gov/doing-business-ny/innovation-development-support.

About U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s investment policy is designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. This foundation builds upon two key economic drivers – innovation and regional collaboration. Innovation is key to global competitiveness, new and better jobs, a resilient economy, and the attainment of national economic goals. Regional collaboration is essential for economic recovery because regions are the centers of competition in the new global economy and those that work together to leverage resources and use their strengths to overcome weaknesses will fare better than those that do not. EDA encourages its partners around the country to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions. For more information on EDA, visit www.eda.gov/.


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