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Proposed Center Would Help Bring New Energy Ideas to the Market
By: Cristina Domingues
Leaders in the battery and energy storage industry in New York are hoping a proposed center at Eastman Business Park will help companies keep up with growing demand in what they say is a booming business.
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Ultralife Corporation manufactures batteries that go into everything from military equipment to medical devices. The company is always looking for what's next, so a large part of what it does is research and development. Then it works to make that new idea, a reality."We're doing it at high expense and at high difficultly at our own facility," said Andrew Naukam, Ultralife Corporation Vice President. "Right now, when we have to have a test done and we are not able to do it ourselves, we send it to another facility, sometimes out of state."
The process of bringing a new product to market can be expensive and lengthy. That's what the proposed NY-BEST Commercialization Center aims to help with.
The center would be one site that companies and universities could share, to help each other create prototypes for new product ideas, test them, do some pilot manufacturing and then get business assistance to take those products to market.
Community members, local and state leaders heard about the plans for the center at an event Friday.
"It could do amazing things," said Naukam. "First of all, it could get us a much more cost effective and quicker solution, so our products could be brought to market much more quickly than they are now."
Like Ultralife, there are dozens and dozens of companies working in the battery and energy industry. New York in 2010 led the nation in battery jobs. Experts say they're the jobs of today, and will be the jobs of the future with more and more fuel efficient cars in the market that need greater battery storage, and the needed energy storage that could help upgrade our state's ailing electric grid.
"These are industries that are both going to be multi-hundred billion dollar industries. Energy storage is a large industry today, but it's going to grow very rapidly over the next few years," said Dr. William Acker, Executive Director of NY-BEST, the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium, that is working to create the center in Rochester.
The first phase of the project estimated to cost $10-20 million, includes retrofitting Building 308 at Eastman Business Park, then bringing in the new equipment needed to make it a shared commercialization space.
The total project cost is about $35 million. The state has given $7 million dollars so far and leaders say they're confident they'll make up the rest needed through private funding.
"We have great ideas, we have great universities, we have a great workforce. The challenge is how to do you make those great ideas into products and services that will be bought in the marketplace and create jobs," said Greater Rochester Enterprise President & CEO Mark Peterson. "All we're doing is making sure we get a head start, that we can commercialize those great ideas and make those new jobs and that new investment happens right here at Eastman Business Park."