News

September 29, 2012

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO?

By: Larry Rulison

Source: Times Union

BESS Technologies

It was more than two years ago that a group of graduate students at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering won the Tech Valley Business Plan Competition.

The students' newly launched company, BESS Technologies (as in Battery Energy Storage Systems), had a promising innovation using silicon nanostructures to boost the storage power of lithium-ion batteries.

With such a massive potential market and government focus on energy conservation and clean-tech advances, the future looked bright for BESS.

Because of its victory in the business plan competition, it was already attracting interest from investment firms and had joined iClean, a business incubator program at the NanoCollege that was created by the school and NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Now, the company, led by CEO Fernando Gomez-Baquero, has struck a licensing deal with the NanoCollege. The agreement, which allows the company to take technology developed in the school's labs to market, will help accelerate its commercialization plan and allow it to continue using the NanoCollege's research and manufacturing facilities.

The school benefits by getting a piece of future company revenues. And it will also likely attract much-needed private financing from investment and venture capital firms to BESS. Indeed, the company is in negotiations right now with at least two venture firms for funding.

Gomez-Baquero said the deal will "pave the way to commercialize and bring to market our unique technology."

The NanoCollege says that BESS is its first student spin-off company. Such spin-offs, and their continued success, are central to fueling "organic growth" that is a goal of government support for the region's high-tech economy. And it helps bring in private money from places like Boston and Silicon Valley that have sustainable high-tech economies.

BESS has already been very successful in the money arena. Not only did it win $19,000 in the business plan competition, but it has won more than $800,000 from NYSERDA and a National Science Foundation program.