Jacques Stroud, a Prototyping Hardware Accelerator alum, pitches his idea for a wearable device that alerts users when they suffer from a mentally distressful episode.

New grant to broaden support for hardware entrepreneurs

Rev: Ithaca Startup Works is set to expand its hardware accelerator programs thanks to a new $2 million “Build to Scale” grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. A local matching fund of $2 million, including $1 million from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), brings the total award amount to $4 million.

Administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) with support from Cornell Engineering, Rev’s Prototyping and Manufacturing Hardware Accelerators help entrepreneurs launch and grow startups offering physical products. In addition to an open track, the accelerators’ AgTech and CleanTech tracks include industry-specific training, mentorship and networking opportunities.

“Rev was one of the first incubators in the nation to have dedicated programs supporting hardware entrepreneurs,” said Ken Rother, director of Rev and Hardware Accelerators.

Rev has worked with 125 hardware companies since 2014.

With the new funding, Rev will help a greater number and a wider diversity of hardware entrepreneurs, launch a new medical tech track to provide tailored support to entrepreneurs developing medical devices, and create a new “protofacturing” accelerator to bridge the gap between the two current accelerators.

“The hardware accelerators support anyone with a product idea, from lab researchers to workers in the field to everyday consumers who notice opportunities in the market,” Rother said. “Expanding our offerings will help even more entrepreneurs start successful companies.”

Now in its 10th round, the Build to Scale program aids the expansion of entrepreneurial support services and startup capital to bolster technology entrepreneurship. Cornell is one of the 60 latest Build to Scale grant recipients and the only awardee in New York state.

“Cornell will put this terrific Build to Scale grant to ambitious use, advancing our research translation and budding entrepreneurs in several fields,” said Krystyn J. Van Vliet, vice president for research and innovation. “This investment continues our commitment to research and the crucial step that innovation plays to translate ideas into products and companies with real-world impact.”

The expansion of the hardware accelerators presents an opportunity for Rev to deepen its existing partnerships at Cornell and to forge new relationships. Made possible by a distinct partnership with the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, the new med tech track will also feature access to design resources, equipment, and faculty in the College of Human Ecology. Weill Cornell Medicine will serve as a source of applicants and industry expertise for the track.

“The grant’s support will serve as a catalyst, providing additional opportunities to several entrepreneurs working in various disciplines,” Van Vliet said. “We are grateful to the EDA and NYSTAR for the matching funds provided, as we advance Cornell’s mission of pushing the boundaries of knowledge and fostering meaningful societal change.”

The hardware accelerators not only assist nascent entrepreneurs, but they also stimulate the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and economy. Program alumni have cumulatively raised more than $26 million in venture capital to date, and 40% of participants have participated in other entrepreneurship programs in upstate New York.

“Rev’s hardware accelerators have a proven track record of connecting entrepreneurs to the bounty of entrepreneurship resources, manufacturers and mentors available in upstate New York,” said Tom Schryver, founding executive director of CREA. “Expanding these one-of-a-kind programs will attract new entrepreneurs to the region and provide the support they need to put down roots in the region.”

Rev also received another $625K this month from Empire State Development’s New York State Business Incubator Program to continue and expand its incubator services, including the hardware accelerators. The new funding allows Rev to further position upstate New York as a hub for technology innovation and a destination for hardware entrepreneurs.

Bridget Hagen is a marketing/communications specialist for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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