ROME — Empire State Development declared ThermoAI as the winner of the Helping Upstate Science & Technology Leaders & Entrepreneurs (HUSTLE) Defense Accelerator Demo Day at Griffiss Institute Thursday.
The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is an elite and immersive 12-week training academy for seed stage startups pushing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), cyber, quantum, and UAS solutions with potential to elevate the United States’ national security and economic competitiveness. CyberSpara was the runner-up in the competition.
“The Griffiss Institute’s HUSTLE Defense Accelerator draws the best and brightest startup talent to help further build the Mohawk Valley’s defense industry ecosystem,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “I would like to congratulate ThermoAI and CyberSpara for their successful pitches tonight. ESD is proud to support companies that will create solutions for real world issues and increase New York State’s economic competitiveness in national security.”
President and CEO of Griffiss Institute Heather Hage said Innovare Advancement Center is home to the first and only startup incubator in the state, which is at the nexus of national security and economic competitiveness for not only the region, but also the state and nation.
“With thanks to New York State, ThermoAI and CyberSpara now have the opportunity to bring their innovative technologies to life right here in the Mohawk Valley,” Hage said. “Our community is highly motivated to give them a runway to the world of defense innovation.”
The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator culminates in a Demo Day where qualifying HUSTLE teams have the opportunity to pitch for up to $300,000 to scale their ventures in the Mohawk Valley made possible by a $2 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant from Empire State Development, recommended by the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVREDC).
ThermoAI, the first-place winner, will receive $200,000 and will locate their business in the Mohawk Valley for 12 months. ThermoAI, from Binghamton, develops artificial intelligence to optimize combustion – directly reducing high-risk refueling missions, cutting operational costs, and reducing emissions. ThermoAI was founded by a machine-learning doctor from Oxford, a chemical engineer, and a published applied AI expert, backed by NSF, NYSERDA, Creative Destruction Labs, and Techstars AI.
CyberSpara, the second-place winner, will receive $100,000 and will locate their business in the Mohawk Valley for 12 months. CyberSpara, hailing from Canton, helps business owners, educational institutions, and government agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Air Force to equip themselves with proper tools and empower individuals to reduce cyber threats and mitigate such national security challenges.
The other two teams competing during Demo Day included:
McGuirk USA (Westerbrook, Maine)
The Team of McGuirk USA (MUSA), Datalytica, and Quanterion Solutions Incorporated (QSI) provide consultants for engineering, data analysis, cyber, and counterintelligence support to industry, defense, and government programs globally.
Secwins aims to develop a software as a service (SaaS) solution, utilizing digital twin technology and ML/AI to more accurately model the socio-technical complexities of the cyber strategic environment.
“The MVREDC recommended funding for the Hustle Defense Accelerator because it has strong history of attracting companies that are fueling innovation in the Mohawk Valley Region and giving them a leg up to succeed,” said MVREDC co-chairs Lawrence T. Gilroy III, president of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, Inc. and Marion Terenzio, SUNY Cobleskill president. “We are pleased to welcome these two new start-ups to the region and can’t wait to see them become a part of the ecosystem that helps continue to move the Mohawk Valley economy forward.”
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is an important component of the city’s economic development strategy to grow new entrepreneurial businesses supporting artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, quantum computing, machine learning (ML) and UAS.
“The teams who participated in Demo Day presented new business solutions to continue building new hardware and software infrastructure to compliment the R&D efforts of Rome Lab and their contractors,” Izzo said. “We are hopeful these companies will grow and prosper right here in the Mohawk Valley as a result of their collaborative experiences nurturing new product ideas through the 12-week HUSTLE experience. ESD has led the way with funding supporting HUSTLE through the REDC process because they recognize with assets like AFRL, Skydome, Innovare and the Griffiss Institute programs like HUSTLE are vital to continue growing the region’s technology-based workforce to support our national defense.”
Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, congratulated all the companies that participated in Demo Day.
“This event provided participants with an important opportunity to develop, pitch and grow innovative ideas and ventures in a variety of high-tech industries,” Griffo said. “These new enterprises will build upon the significant research and development that takes place every day in Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley.”
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. said Griffiss Institute is a tremendous partner to Oneida County and the HUSTLE program that it operates at Innovare Advancement Center is a prime example of how “together we are shaping the future of the high-tech defense industry.”
Picente said, “I would like to congratulate all of the HUSTLE teams for displaying such innovative approaches to elevating our national security and I wish the winners the best of luck as they reinvest their prize money in the Mohawk Valley.”
Assemblywoman Maryann Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, added, “I want to thank the Empire State Development team, the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, The Griffiss Institute, and Innovare Advancement Center for their leadership and involvement with the Hustle Defense Accelerator Competition. This training academy is vital to the future of technological innovation.”
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. Its mission is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies.
Originally posted on Rome’s Daily Sentinel