Courtesy of Cornell University

The Cornell Center for Materials Research, shown above, will offer resources and financial support to seven small businesses through its JumpStart program.

March 28, 2018

Cornell ‘Jump-Starts’ Small Businesses Through Expert Guidance and Funding

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Iko Systems is one of seven small businesses in New York that have been selected this semester to receive access to Cornell experts and New York State funds.

Through JumpStart, a Cornell program created in 2005 that has since served 87 awarded companies, Iko Systems will be given the opportunity to problem-solve and grow their business, according to the Cornell Chronicle, which is run by the University.

JumpStart garners support from the Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation to help startups develop their products, increase revenue and create jobs, according to the Cornell Chronicle.

Awards provide companies with a semester-long project and up to $15,000 toward project costs for faculty, research time, facilities, supplies and materials, according to the Cornell Center for Materials Research. Recipients can also benefit from Cornell resources, close interactions with Cornell faculty and receive up to $5,000 in matching NYSTAR funding.

Seven New York state businesses will receive funding to participate in the program and work with Cornell faculty to improve their products this semester. Among these groups are Ithaca-based companies Iko Systems, Ionica Sciences and Zymtronix Catalytic Systems.

Iko Systems, led by a team of Cornell engineers and botanists, and Re-Nuble, another startup funded by Cornell, are working with Prof. Neil Mattson, horticulture, to develop weed-free growth media.

During his time at Cornell, Michael Eaton ’18, Iko Systems CEO, missed his home garden and wanted a place to grow herbs in Ithaca free of weather or spatial constraints.

“Jumpstart revealed and then enabled us to make the most of the spectacular resources right under our noses,” Eaton said.

Brooklyn-based company Re-Nuble focuses on commercializing technologies that transform food waste into chemical free, organic nutrients for plant cultivation. Instead of going to landfills, this food waste is recycled safely and sustainably, according to the Re-Nuble website.

The Re-Nuble team was excited to “join research and development efforts” with Iko Systems in the program because of their “mutual interest in upcycling resources for the beneficial growth of food,” said Tinia Pina, Re-Nuble founder. “This opportunity enables us to accelerate our testing and development on a new type of material that we’d like to upcycle for farms and identify a second life or use case for.”

Zymtronix Catalytic System and Ionica Sciences — granted a second semester of funding — will collaborate with Prof. Christopher Umbach, materials science and engineering. Ionica Sciences will use JumpStart resources to help improve a Lyme disease diagnostic test in humans with hopes to provide this new testing by late 2019, according to Joel Tabb, president of Ionica Sciences.

Stephanie Corgie, CEO of Cornell startup Zymtronix, which “develops innovative materials to support enzyme catalysts for faster, safer and greener chemical production,” expressed gratitude to CCMR for granting the company “access to the academic expertise and analytical equipment to develop and assess [their] materials.”

Other award recipients are Lab141, which works with luxury brands and designers to make clothes custom fit to people’s bodies, Ontario-based company Optimax and Vital Vio. According to Lab141 co-founder and CEO Andrea Madho, “The [Jumpstart Program] funding was instrumental to getting the manufacturing strength and durability testing done to prove our concept.”

Optimax will be working with director of Cornell’s Biotechnology Resource Center Rebecca Williams and CT Manager Teresa Porri to develop new methods for inspecting materials used for optical devices.

Vital Vio develops germ-killing LED technology for commercial and residential use and will be collaborating with Prof. Warren Zipfel, biomedical engineering, to characterize phosphorus wavelength conversion coatings for use in antibacterial LED lamps.