INSIDE the LAB | Issue No. 3 | June, 2016
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If you are a parent of a high school student, you need to rope them in! That’s right, now your little “mini you” can learn how to become an entrepreneur, (and fund your retirement), through our new Rome Opportunity Program for Entrepreneur Students (ROPES). The Griffiss Institute is helping to build a program that will involve students in STEM-like activities coupled with an entrepreneurial perspective. This program is being piloted this summer through Wasabi Ventures and will be made available each year. Read more about it below.

Did you see that!?  AFRL held its Spring 2016 Demo Day, last May, at the new thINCubator in Utica. It was a huge success! Two of the eight teams were awarded $25,000 each. This is a good sum of money for an early start up company and it is a non-equity investment so the companies don’t have to give up any piece of their “baby” to investors. Check out the videos and photo below.

So, “What’s in it for me?”  Here are some stats:

But that’s not all. You also receive the gratification of knowing that your work is important to the Air Force in particular, but also to the U.S. economy at large. And, you are confirmed in your ingenuity that what you are studying, researching, and creating, is worthwhile and transformative.  Nice work Rome!  I’m continually amazed at the treasure trove of talent and innovative solutions here. I believe we are just scratching the surface and need to tap further into the intellectual property lurking just beneath the surface. But in order to do that, I need your help to open the flood gates and “Create the Awe!” Brian Abbe, ORTA                                                                                                   - Brian Abbe, ORTA

Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, Griffiss Institute, and Wasabi Ventures Academy Introduce Rome Opportunity Program for Entrepreneur Students (ROPES)
ROPES flyerAir Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI), Griffiss Institute (GI) and Wasabi Ventures Academy together, are proud to introduce the new ROPES program, Rome Opportunity Program for Entrepreneur Students. This new initiative is an AFRL/RI, summer program, facilitated by the GI and being run by Wasabi Ventures Academy. This program offers two tracks; one for high school students, grades 9 through 12, and another for college students. The program is a supplemental effort to the successful Commercialization Academy program, with the following learning objectives: the creation of student interns with an introduction into the business development process, students analyzing laboratory technology marketability, students interfacing with laboratory personnel, and bundling all with experimental learning.

ROPES will be held from the beginning of July 2016, through the end of August, and is being offered free of charge. The program will be run as a hybrid learning model that combines online curriculum with web conferences and in-person classes. In-person classes will be held at the thINCubator, 326 Broad Street, in downtown Utica. The online course will be taught by Wasabi Ventures Academy staff, and in-person classes will feature additional instructors, including AFRL/RI scientists and managing partners from Wasabi Ventures.

To apply for this program, download the application, fill out, and email to
Applications are due TODAY Wednesday, June 29, 2016. For more information on ROPES, please contact Michele at Wasabi Ventures Academy,

Two Startups Win Big at Commercialization Academy Demo Day; $50,000 Awarded

Demo Day Winners

Brian Abbe, ORTA at AFRL/RI; Patrick Harris, Xompass FaaS vice president of Global Sales; TK Kuegler, Wasabi Ventures general partner; Crystal Taggart, OneTouchTrust founder and CEO; and Daniel Goddard, Director at AFRL/RI.
Demo Day Pictures

View All Demo Day Photos Here!

Griffiss Institute and Wasabi Ventures hosted investors, entrepreneurs, and tech transfer enthusiasts to watch eight startups, that had completed the 2016 Spring Commercialization Academy, pitch to judges, and an audience of 100+, on how they have been disrupting the market with Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) technologies as a pivotal part of their business model, during the Academy’s Demo Day, that took place on May 24, 2016, at the thINCubator in downtown Utica.

$50,000 was up for grabs as teams took the stage for four minutes each, to pitch audience members and a panel of judges, in order to see which startup company and AFRL/RI technology-based products and services were most deserving of the money.

The eight startup teams who took the stage on Tuesday evening were; Inara, OneTouchTrust, Covrt Security, GeoPixi, Xompass FaaS, SwitchNote, Sravel, and CFO Technology Corporation.

Xompass FaaS, a service platform that provides intelligence to assets in the energy industries, walked away with the judges’ vote and $25,000, while a company that combats online identity fraud, OneTouchTrust, won the audience vote and $25,000.

Patrick Harris, vice president of Xompass Faas said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this group, and the Air Force Research Lab has done great things for our technology. Hopefully we can continue to develop the product to incorporate some more of the research lab’s patents and make the world a better place.”

“I am very excited to win! I have been so grateful to be a part of this program. It’s made a huge difference in my business, and helped me to make connections that I wouldn’t have been able to make outside this organization, so I’m really, really, excited to be a part of it”, says Crystal Taggart, founder and CEO of OneTouchTrust.

The judges looked at how each team is using AFRL/RI technologies, and the innovative ways they each currently bring, or will bring, these technologies to the public market.

The Commercialization Academy is blazing a path in Department of Defense (DoD) IP Tech Transfer; fundamentally changing the way a startup gets built by pairing hungry entrepreneurs with AFRL technologies, creating new companies to impact local ecosystems. The Commercialization Academy is creating the building blocks for a stronger community in the Mohawk Valley.

“The Commercialization Academy represents a transformative approach to doing tech transfer at a research lab. The combining of hands-on mentoring, local funding, founders with domain expertise, and world-class intellectual property from the labs, has created the ability to create scalable companies that impact the entire ecosystem,” said Wasabi Ventures general partner TK Kuegler.

Over the past six months, the Spring 2016 Commercialization Academy, run by Wasabi Ventures, has seen 18 individuals setting out to transform Air Force Research Laboratory technologies into new startups, with eight startups developed. With the full support of Wasabi Ventures’ mentoring and education, including hundreds of constructive meetings and thousands of interactions, each team was able to accomplish a tremendous amount. All eight teams were able to create a legal entity, license their piece of Intellectual Property (IP), spec up product designs, learn the proper way to pitch their IP, develop a go-to-market, and define their growth strategies, which all lead up to the Spring 2016 Demo Day.

Check out these Demo Day videos!

Demo Day Highlight Video Demo Day Recap Video

Like, Follow & Connect with The Commercialization Academy!

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