76West Clean Energy Competition

Facilitated by the awesome folks at the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, 76West is a clean energy business plan competition. Announced by Governor Cuomo in 2015 and administered through NYSERDA, the competition offers $3 million in prize money every year split between six outstanding startups furthering our state’s clean energy innovation.

The events spanned a full week in July. Monday was Welcome Day, when teams from across the country met each other for the first time and were introduced to the week’s activities. To prepare for the semifinals pitches the next day, competitors headed to Alfred State College for a tech check and practice time with their mentors, but not before they got an adrenaline boost in a pace car at the Watkin’s Glen racetrack and heard from local leaders of Schuyler County’s economic development.

Day 2 was Semifinals Pitch Day. The 15 teams pitched on stage to a panel of judges with a live audience, competing to see who would move on to the Finals pitches on Day 4. The day wrapped up with a reception in the gorgeous facilities at Alfred State College.

I admit Day 3 was my favorite: Innovation Day. As they waited for word of who would advance to finals pitches the next day, they had some time to explore and dine in Downtown Ithaca. The afternoon was filled with tours of some relevant facilities at Cornell, including the Cornell NanoScale Facility and the central Combined Heat & Power Plant, followed by an evening networking event at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.

Finally: Day 4. Eight teams pitched to a new panel of judges and a live audience, vying for one of six prizes. Winners were announced earlier this month and can be found on the NYSERDA website.