Ithaca startup wins $250,000 in Southern Tier clean energy competition

Adrian Cosmo and José Lozano, co-founders of Biological Energy, pitch their technology to a panel of blue-ribbon judges at the 76West Finals Pitch at Corning Inc.

Six clean-tech companies working at the intersection of technology and sustainability will use 76West competition prize money to help build the clean energy economy in the Southern Tier. Now in its second year, the winners of the 76West clean energy business plan competition were announced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul during a ceremony Aug. 16 in Binghamton, New York.

Among the finalists was Biological Energy, an Ithaca-based company founded by Jose Luis Lozano, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’91, and Adrian Cosma. They have developed an electroactive attached growth (EAG) module that increases wastewater treatment capacity and eliminates more than 95 percent of nutrients that are harmful to the environment while reducing energy use.

“Our experience as a semifinalist during the 2016 76West competition played a significant role in our success this year,” said Lonzano. “This award will allow us to build our full-size commercial EAG units for deployment at municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants to increase their treatment capacity without the need of new construction or changes to the hydraulics of the treatment process.”

Funded by New York state, 76West is one of the largest clean-energy business plan competitions in the nation and is designed to advance clean-energy technologies and further develop a clean-energy ecosystem in the Southern Tier. 76West is also focused on economic development and job creation in the Southern Tier.

Cornell, as lead administrator in the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, manages the 76West program in coordination with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Winning companies have a proven technology or innovation that advances energy efficiency, renewable energy or decreases nonrenewable energy use.

2017 Finalists:

$1 million grand prize winner

  • Skyven Technologies: Uses solar heating techniques to reduce fossil-fuel consumption in agriculture and other industries.

$500,000 award winner

  • SunTegra: develops solar products that are integrated into roofs to provide clean energy and an alternate look to conventional solar panels

$250,000 award winners

  • Biological Energy: provides technology that increases wastewater treatment capacity while reducing energy use.
  • EthosGen: captures and transforms waste heat to resilient, renewable on-site electric power.
  • SolarKal: provides a brokerage service to help businesses simplify the process of going solar.
  • Visolis: produces high-value chemicals from biomass instead of petroleum, which reduces greenhouse gases.

“76West is a commitment by New York state to invest in our clean-energy future. Our goal is to create a regional community of clean energy businesses, through providing support to existing companies and attracting new companies to the Southern Tier,” said Brian Bauer, 76West program director. “Last year’s winners have already made great strides in expanding their operations in our region, and I am confident that this years’ winners will make a lasting impact on our clean energy eco-system and economy.”

Natalie Grande is a marketing and communications assistant for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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Joe Schwartz