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Startups begin work in AFRL Commercialization Academy

By Eric Reinhardt


Company leaders and staff of Go Figure (left) and SkyTubeLive (right) pose with their first place and second place checks, respectively, at a previous edition of the AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day and IDEA NY (Innovation & Development Entrepreneurial Accelerator) business accelerator competition on March 21 of this year. (Photo credit: Simon Eisenbach Productions)

ROME — Four teams from the Syracuse area and two from Utica are among eight startup companies competing in the AFRL Commercialization Academy.

AFRL is short for Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, which is more commonly known as Rome Lab.

The group of companies started their work July 15, says Dan Fayette, program manager for the AFRL Commercialization Academy who also works with the Griffiss Institute.

The companies are developing “innovations” in the cybersecurity, big-data analytics, information systems, and the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry, the Griffiss Institute said in its July 12 announcement. The startups were selected from a pool of applicant submissions.

The AFRL Commercialization Academy is a Griffiss Institute entrepreneurial-education program sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate. The Commercialization Academy pairs “high-caliber founders with high-potential AFRL technologies with the goals of developing entrepreneurial leaders and launching new technology ventures.”

“We are under contract [with] AFRL to do technology transfer of intellectual property that was developed for a military application and then dual purpose it to a commercial application,” says Fayette, who spoke with CNYBJ on July 15.

How it works

During the cohort, the teams will be incubated while building their startups around Department of Defense intellectual property from the AFRL Information Directorate in Rome.

“The idea is to help provide them the tools through the Commercialization Academy … help them get established, help them grab a go-to-market strategy,” says Fayette. “The only thing we ask them to do is use some of the intellectual property from AFRL as they build their company.” 

The startups in mid-July entered the Commercialization Academy and will go through an elimination process in the fall. The remaining selected teams will compete live by pitching their tech businesses to a panel of judges at a Demo Day event for $300,000 in prize seed funding from IDEA NY.

“That was an agreement we had with New York State to help grow businesses in the Mohawk Valley,” says Fayette.

The overall winner will claim a grand prize of $200,000, while the runner-up will win $100,000.

After Demo Day in early November, eligible teams will participate in the IDEA NY accelerator program that will incentivize promising entrepreneurs to create and grow viable commercial businesses in the Mohawk Valley, by requiring that the company’s primary office be located in the region for a 12-month period.

Startup teams

The startup teams include PreVision Corp. of Syracuse, which creates image-processing systems that make “real-time precision imaging of large areas possible” from small unmanned aircraft. 

Seven Sundays of Syracuse provides digital options to the vacation rental industry, which it says allows homeowners to “live life as if every day were a Sunday.” 

Counter Drone TrEx, also of Syracuse, aims to be the training and knowledge exchange platform for counter-drone courses and related content, community, and, commerce.

Koti of Cicero is a cybersecurity company focused on protecting the smart devices that automate your home, such as your security system, smart appliances, and Wi-Fi.

MyCloset of Utica is an app-based company dedicated in assisting individuals in the personalization of their closet, through styling and suggesting new items to purchase via the app. 

On the Curb, Inc., also of Utica, is a data-architecture platform that says it makes data analysis, reporting, and new data products, “extremely easy” to develop and deploy, “and more powerful the more [it is] used.” 

Lake of Bays Semiconductor Inc. of Buffalo is using automotive-sensor technology to solve collisions with wildlife, which it says are a $5 billion problem for auto-insurance companies.

United Aircraft Technologies of Albany is creating a new class of clamp for aircraft wiring that is designed to reduce weight, improve safety, and simplify maintenance, through lightweight parts and augmented reality.

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