By Nicole Mauro

On June 10, NextCorps and Rev: Ithaca Startup Works hosted a virtual event to celebrate the accomplishments made by the 18 cleantech startup companies enrolled in Cohort I and II of Hardware Scaleup. 

The program is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to help speed the delivery of cleantech products that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide for more sustainable energy development and use, and foster economic growth. Second Muse administers a similar program downstate, also funded by NYSERDA, called MCorps. Launched less than two years ago, Hardware Scaleup provides a unique combination of education, mentoring, networking, and funding opportunities to help startups move their cleantech product from an early prototype to mass production, and reduce the risks that often accompany the scaling process. 

“Celebrations are all about the joyful experience of achieving a goal that has presented challenges and adversities as part of the journey,” said Mike Riedlinger, Hardware Scaleup program director. 

A celebration was indeed in order. 

“In the 18 months since the first group of eight startups began the program, a total of more than 140 jobs were directly supported at the startups. Sales revenues also went from zero to over $3 million for the companies, collectively,” said Riedlinger. “New products are now on the market from these startups, which now have sustainable manufacturing processes in place to continue scaling.” 

Due to event restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually. However, more than 70 mentors, manufacturers, partner organizations, and program participants joined the celebration to watch videos featuring testimonials from many of those involved in the program, listen to speeches, recognize people for their contributions, and make new contacts through improv and breakout room activities. Post event, each cohort company received a trophy by mail signifying their accomplishments to date.

Much of this progress was focused on the difficult task of reworking a prototype into a design that is easy to manufacture and mass produce, and developing a comprehensive roadmap that can be used to scale manufacturing. 

“Working to get a startup team to the point of readiness to begin manufacturing products at scale requires them to learn a “new language” for communicating with manufacturers,” said Riedlinger. “The nature of startup businesses is that there are many risks that threaten their survival before products even make it to the first customers. Manufacturers, that are much more accustomed to working with established companies that already know the language, are often hesitant to work with a startup because of the big investment required up-front.”

Entrepreneurs often lack the manufacturing and financial resources, along with the overall experience, to accomplish this task,Hardware Scaleup provides the needed structure by connecting participants to expertise and guidance from over 15 partners in the cleantech ecosystem to help ready them for the imminent challenges they will face. 

With how well the pilot program has progressed so far, and with the continued hard work and dedication from everyone involved, the future looks promising.

“Everyone had challenges along the way. Taking the time to look back on what was accomplished and to celebrate these achievements not only recognizes what these entrepreneurs are capable of, but ushers in momentum for continued progress,” said Riedlinger. “At the program level, we’re now on to engaging more startups, contract manufacturers, investors, partners, and customers to advance the aggressive goals set in New York State to keep improving our climate and economy.”

You can view the progress snapshots of each company here. Visit https://scaleup.nextcorps.org/ to learn more about the program and the emerging technologies that are being developed by companies in Hardware Scaleup.

Cohort 1 Companies

Combined Energies

Ecolectro

EkoStinger

Paradigm of New York

Phase Innovations

Southern Tier Technologies

Switched Source

WexEnergy

Cohort 2 Companies

Accelerate Wind  

Cellec Technologies

Hub Controls

Potsdam Sensors

SeaArctos

Skyven Technologies

SmartKable

WeRadiate

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