NYSTAR Asset Highlight: SyracuseCoE

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Sports Field With Lights

M3 Innovation accesses resources through NYSTAR-backed SyracuseCoE to drive cleantech innovation in sports and municipal lighting systems

The bright lights of Friday Nights are getting an upgrade thanks to the work of a startup company and the support of the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems at Syracuse University – which is commonly referred to as SyracuseCoE and backed by NYSTAR, Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.Lights shining down

M3 Innovation, founded by Joe Casper and Chris Nolan, is changing the game in the $4 billion outdoor municipal sports lighting market in North America with its innovative and energy-efficient solutions. The product is specifically focused towards the high school and parks and recreation fields. The company has created a modular LED lighting systems which allow municipalities to access energy-efficient LED lightning without the need for complicated infrastructure. Their first suite of products, the Mako Solution, was launched in late 2021. It reduces energy consumption by more than 75 percent and features snap-on technology modules for a variety of uses from disinfecting turf fields for mold and bacteria with UV lightning to incorporating live video streaming capabilities.

“The cost of ownership of conventional LED sports lighting is not affordable to the parks-and-rec market. M3 Innovation with the MAKO Sports Lighting Solution is solving these agonizing pains of high costs of ownership,” Casper said. “Facility owners need a game-changing disruptive solution that significantly reduces the manufacturing costs, reduces the cost of installation, eliminates project management cost, and eliminates re-occurring cost. The MAKO Sports Lighting Solution is that ideal solution that is even ‘future-proof’ allowing facility owners to adapt to the ever-changing technology evolution.”

Eliminating the need for traditional lightning infrastructure — like bulky cross arms, expensive wiring connection, and heavy weight fixtures— required plenty of support in applying research and testing prototypes. That’s why the resources available at the NYSTAR-funded SyracuseCoE provided the ideal partner for Casper to work on growing his business.

“We spent countless hours evaluating new technologies and researching advanced materials in the design of the MAKO Solution,” Casper said. “The MAKO module is both the structural cross-arm and the LED lighting source. The mechanical, thermal, and electrical challenges were not easy to overcome. It felt like we were breaking so many of the laws of physics in developing this system. We had six students and a professor from Syracuse University one entire summer just researching and analyzing the mechanics and thermals of the entire system. They evaluated the structural integrity of the cross arm that replicates a bridge so it can withstand hurricane wind loads. That’s why the Syracuse Center of Excellence, with the vast resources and knowledge, was so instrumental in the success of this monumental effort.”

M3 Innovation’s partnership with SyracuseCoE, along with being a member of the Startup NY program, gave the business access to the research and development facilities and staff resources necessary to build prototypes for testing along with marketing demonstrations.

Syracuse COE Building
“SyracuseCoE is excited to be working with innovative and entrepreneurial start-ups like M3 Innovation, providing access to facilities, equipment and testing, student talent recruitment, and commercialization assistance over the course of a company’s growth,” said Tamara Rosanio, associate director of Partner Programs at Syracuse CoE. “M3 has done an outstanding job accessing the wealth of resources available from New York State’s ecosystem of partners, and we look forward to their continued success in the market.”

SyracuseCoE is a vital part of New York State’s innovation infrastructure — a robust, statewide network overseen by NYSTAR that provides innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders with access to resources and support to solve challenges, develop technology and grow companies. Across the state, there are over 70 NYSTAR-backed centers.


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