FuzeHub Announces 2022 Commercialization Competition Awardees at the New York State Innovation Summit

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NYS Commercialization competition winners up on stage


Susan Bardack/Buzz Media Solutions
Phone: (518) 867-7940
[email protected]

Patty Rechberger

[email protected]

Grand awardee received $150,000; 6 startups were awarded $50,000 each and 2 were awarded $25,000 each to advance the development of their technologies

(Albany, NY – October 27, 2022) — FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization responsible for assisting small and medium-sized manufacturing companies in New York State, has selected the awardees for its 2022 Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund Commercialization Competition. The sixth installment of the Commercialization Competition was held October 25-26 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center as part of the NYS Innovation Summit. The Competition awarded a total of $500,000, the largest payout since the program inception, to nine entrepreneurs from across New York State who pitched their ideas before a live audience and a panel of 4 expert judges from the economic development community.

Empire State Development (ESD) Senior Vice President Matt Watson, who directs ESD’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), said, “My warmest congratulations to the 9 startups awarded. This is a very competitive program with a tough selection process, and all of the finalists have clearly come prepared. We are happy to support more talented entrepreneurs each year and continue to look for ways to expand our services to them.”

The annual two-day Innovation Summit was held in Buffalo, NY, and included keynote speakers, an executive roundtable, exhibits, breakout sessions on economic development trends and disruptive technologies, and tours of local Centers of Excellence and a new Incubator. Over 500 people and 100 exhibitors were in attendance. During the Commercialization Competition, which is the 4th Track in the Summit breakout sessions, twelve companies demonstrated the commercialization potential of their product or technology while competing against each other for the opportunity to win an award that will lead them closer to market.

“We are very excited to add these companies to our awardee portfolio. Many previous awardees have achieved significant, sustainable growth, and some have even received national recognition,” said Elena Garuc, Executive Director of FuzeHub, “We believe that this year’s winners are in a position to do just as well, if not better, and we are proud to support them in their journey.”


FuzeHub is pleased to announce the awardees:

Grand Award – $150,000

Farm to Flame Energy Inc. (Syracuse)

Farm to Flame Energy repurposed a Steam Turbine to generate electricity through a smokeless-odorless and portable biomass electricity generation process. They use pulverized feed stocks as biomass to achieve a thermal efficiency of 98%, against the traditional biomass thermal efficiency of 78%.


$50,000 Awards

Aha! Solutions, Inc. (Mechanicville)

Aha! Solutions developed a revolutionary step stool that provides a safer, better step up for customers. The Next-Step Stool contains 2 hooks that attach to a cabinet door of any height, minimizing the distance between the stool and the desired area of reach. These hooks provide a built-in anti-tipping mechanism, creating a higher level of safety during use. Furthermore, the steps can be customized on demand – if the upper step is not needed, it can be easily folded away without any obstruction to using the lower step alone.


Carapace Analytics (Syracuse)

Carapace Analytics is ready to scale their existing automated mobility assessment which measures users’ fall risk. This project includes investment technology infrastructure and sensors.


Envision Biopolymers LLC (Syracuse)

Envision will provide a waste-to-bioplastic platform technology for chemical suppliers to the pulp and paper-based food packaging industry. This not only answers their customers’ demands for more sustainable packaging solutions, but also an impending critical need to replace soon-to-be outlawed

workhouse chemistries (PFAS) that they have been using


Photonect Interconnect Solutions Inc. (Rochester)

Photonect Interconnect Solutions is creating a state-of-the-art laser attach machine which connects optical fibers to photonic chips using fusion splicing with a patented adapter integrated into the photonic chip. This improves device performance by 4x and decreases the speed of manufacturing by 10X leading to a cost savings of 50% per connection.


Levelle Inc. (Poughkeepsie)

Levelle Nutrition seeks to design, procure and install a manufacturing line that forms, fills and pasteurizes energy purée and seed butter single-serve pouches. Levelle aims to revolutionize the sports nutrition industry by focusing on female athletes and tailoring products to the female metabolism. They use low-glycemic, plant ingredients to deliver a sustained release of energy, without a side serving of agony


SOTRO Innovations Inc. (Brooklyn)

SOTRO Innovations builds tech-enabled products to make it easier & faster to style and grow healthier, thicker, and longer hair. They are going to launch an environmentally-sustainable, collapsible hair steamer that facilitates aromatherapy integration, self-sanitizes & allows for set-up on any flat surface.


$25,000 Awards

K-Neesio LLC (Rochester)

NuNee is a clinically proven and recommended bracing system for treatment of anterior knee pain. In 2023, K-Neesio will grow their existing manufacturing capacity in the NY Finger Lakes Region, expand their clinical marketing and sales efforts nationally, and harden the NuNee product for use in the military and contact sports.


Mohawk Machine Works LLC (Amsterdam)

Mohawk will manufacture innovative technology to quickly & efficiently clean & dry surfaces for commercial & government customers in infrastructure & transportation. Market research has identified a worldwide need for Mohawk technology in multiple applications/market segments, with many years of future growth potential.


The Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, consisting of over $1 million annually, supports a set of activities designed to spur technology development and commercialization across New York State. FuzeHub is administering this fund as part of its role as the Empire State Development designated statewide MEP center. For more information about the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, contact Patty Rechberger, Innovation Fund Manager, at [email protected] or visit Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund.

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 and mid-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.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.




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