Cleantech 2016 Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, (518) 274-2723


More Than $5000 in Prizes for Clean Transportation, Building and Renewables

TROY, N.Y. (09/27/16) — A 32-hour competition next month in Troy will offer $5,000 in prizes for clean technology “hacks.”

From 9 a.m Saturday, Oct. 15 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct 16, teams of computer programmers, engineers, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs will work in teams around the clock to devise clean technology solutions during the Tech Valley Center of Gravity Clean Tech Hackathon (TVCOG).

“There is a tremendous interest in clean technology solutions, from new power sources and conservation methods, to ways we can improve and preserve our environment,” said Tom Tongue, executive director of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. “What we’re looking to do is pilot the next generation of prototypes and ideas to find creative solutions to problems and market needs.”

A hackathon is an event, usually lasting more than a day, where groups of computer programmers and other tech-oriented people collaborate intensely on projects using software. Hackers typically staying in the space the entire time working constantly.

To help inspire the competitors, organizers of the TVCOG Clean Tech Hackathon have solicited problem statements from key players in the industry in the areas of Advanced Buildings, Renewables and Clean Transportation. Some problems hackers may tackle include: making solar photovoltaic and wind energy more predictable; innovations in “smart” building technology that can adjust energy usage based on intelligent predictions of the occupants’ behaviors; and designing hardware/software solutions that use on-street installations to improve bike and pedestrian safety and comfort.

The third installment in a quarterly series, the TVCOG Clean Tech Hackathon is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“Innovative ideas in clean technology are critical to Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers,” said John B. Rhodes, NYSERDA president and CEO. “At this event, great minds are coming together to create solutions to New York’s energy challenges, and we look forward to hearing their ideas.”


Great Food, Quality Mentors in a Cool Makerspace

There are five $1,000 cash prizes ($5000 total) to be awarded in each of the following categories:

– Best Advanced Buildings Solution

– Best Renewables Solution

– Best Clean Transportation Solution

– People’s Choice

– Most Likely To Be Commercially Successful

Registration is free but required. An abundance of high quality free food is available to all hackers and participants.

Hackathon mentors include representatives from NYSERDA, BessTech, The Wagoner Firm,  New York State Mesonet, Bette & Cring Construction Group.

While it’s rare that a hackathon results in a genuine breakthrough, hackathon mentor Bruce Toyama, VP of Product Development at BessTech, said that’s not the only purpose of these events.

“An important part of a hackathon is encouraging entrepreneurship,” Toyama said. “I don’t know many entrepreneurs that went to market on the first try. The majority of times you have to pivot a few times.”

Based in Troy, N.Y., BessTech is a startup aiming to make better batteries by developing ultra-thin lithium-ion batteries for use in consumer electronics like wearables, electric vehicles and other applications. The company was started by students at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany and is scaling its technology by working with multiple industrial partners. BessTech is among 141 clean technology companies the state has invested seed money into under the governor’s initiative.

“Clean tech is one of those areas that got a lot of political visibility and a lot of money flowed into it in the mid 2000s,” Toyama said. “Things have slowed a bit since then because some of these technologies do take time to bring on the market — things like clean water technologies can have a longer gestation time because they have to be tested for safety and they often require significant upfront capital investment.”

Toyama said one of the clean tech areas that is still “hot” with inventors and investors is software apps that measure and help reduce energy consumption in the home or office. He expects to encounter a lot of software “hacks” involving clean tech this Oct. 15-16.


Workforce Development Institute (WDI) is a partner of Tech Valley Center of Gravity and a sponsor of the TVCOG Clean Tech Hackathon. According to Dan Cullen, WDI Regional Director- Capital region, New York presently ranks second in the nation in clean tech patents and fourth in the number of clean tech companies.

“Tech Valley Center of Gravity is an important resource for the exchange of knowledge and skills that have the potential to foster entrepreneurship and enrich the landscape of manufacturing in the Capital Region,” Cullen said. “The hackathon has the potential to spur the next wave of innovation in the clean tech economy that is filled with well paying jobs for New Yorkers.”

Troy Local Development Corporation is a sponsor of the TVCOG hackathon series.

“Troy’s recent growth and renaissance as a high-tech hub in the Capital Region is driven by the talent and creative capital of our educational and private industry partners,” said Steven Strichman, executive director of the Troy Local Development Corporation. “The Troy LDC is proud to sponsor and support innovative competitions like the Tech Valley Center of Gravity’s Clean Tech Hackathon which promotes collaborative problem-solving to find solutions to real-world challenges facing cities like Troy and across the nation.”


To make the best environment for generating new ideas with an eye toward commercialization, the hackathon is an ‘IP-free Zone,’ which means the TVCOG and sponsors do not claim any intellectual property rights as part of participating in the event.


The following is praise for the Tech Valley Center of Gravity’s previous hackathons:

“This is how you run a hackathon.”

— Dan Maloney,

“I’ve seen bigger hackathons but not better.”

— Jeff Branson, SparkFun Educational Outreach Coordinator



To download high resolution publicity logos and photos of previous hackathons at TVCOG, visit:

For all photos “Courtesy of Tech Valley Center of Gravity.”


The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is a 501(c)(3) membership organization offering space, equipment, education and camaraderie to makers, hackers, crafters, tinkerers and artists in a beautiful new makerspace in a renovated century-old building located at 30 3rd Street in downtown Troy, N.Y.

The TVCOG has four hackathons scheduled quarterly over 2016 to bring together experts in the field with passionate students, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to create new devices, processes, software, some of which might grow into new startups!


For information, visit:, call (518) 244-3544 or email:


Duncan Crary, (518) 274-2723