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ETEC - Innovation Crossroads and Spark Cleantech Accelerator Cohorts

ETEC - Innovation Crossroads and Spark Cleantech Accelerator Cohorts

Friday, October 20, 2023 (7:30 AM - 8:30 AM) (EDT)


Join us on Friday, October 20, 2023, to hear from cohorts participating in the Spark Cleantech Accelerator and Innovation Crossroads Cohort 7.  Scroll down to learn more about each cohort! 

ETEC members meet each Friday morning from 7:30am-8:30am. This meeting is open to all members and their guests.

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Stefano Alva, Farm to Flame Energy
Stefano Alva is the CCO of FTF Energy. He was born in Costa Rica and lived there until he was 18, when he moved to UW Madison to do his Undergraduate in Economics with Applied Mathematics. He then did a MS program in Carnegie-Mellon University in Energy Science, Technology and Policy, where he connected with FTF Energy to help with business development and fundraising.

  • Farm to Flame Energy provides industrial manufacturing facilities the ability to repurpose their biomass waste into heating and/or electricity through an Energy-as-a-Service business model. Farm to Flame’s patented combustion process allows it to achieve a high combustion efficiency, which results in a smokeless and odorless burn from a variety of feedstocks that are typically unsuitable for energy generation.

Nicholas Sokol, Algaeo
Nicholas Sokol has a PhD in Geography with a concentration in atmospheric science. Nicholas has worked in environmental science, renewable energy, and agriculture for over 8 years and has a plethora of operational, educational, and research experience.

  • Algaeo is the start-up creates systems that help farmers produce sustainable, efficient, and organic fertilizers on-site using micro-algae and artificial intelligence-driven hardware. Algae grow quickly, take carbon dioxide from the air, and are easily grown under a variety of conditions. Algae fertilizer has been shown to boost yield on a variety of crops and help farmers boost their soil health. Through Algaeo, farmers can purchase algae fertilizer directly, or buy the equipment to grow their own fertilizer.

Chris Sentz, Vitruvian 
Chris Sentz has more than a decade of experience leading multidisciplinary teams across different industries. He has experience taking companies from ideation to nine figures as well as joining existing businesses to bring growth and efficiency. Leveraging technology, trends, and a positive margin-grounded mindset has been a rinse-and-repeat strategy that continues to yield exponential results for the businesses he leads. Career highlights include exiting his first business at 23 then jumping into corporate America to take a company from $28M to $133M of online revenue in 18 months all while the US economy was crumbling. As a community leader Chris runs multiple meetup groups in his home city of Columbus, OH. To date he has brought together more than 12,000 individuals through thought leadership and mentoring programs.

  • Vitruvian is reshaping housing with its autonomous construction platform that produces highly desirable homes at a fraction of the cost, build time, and labor of conventionally built homes. The company exists at the convergence of robotics, advanced materials, and artificial intelligence; empowering building in ways that are otherwise impossible.

Godfrey Simiyu Katiyambo, INNO-NEAT Energy Solutions
Godfrey Simiyu Katiyambo is an experienced business development and marketing professional with expertise in renewable energy and sustainability. He is the founder and CEO of INNO-NEAT Energy Solutions, providing off-grid solar solutions and advisory services focused on innovation, business growth, and social impact. Godfrey has held leadership roles at organizations including Energy4Impact Foundation, Bopinc, TechBridge Invest Africa, and SUNami Solar Ltd. He has extensive experience conducting market research, developing sales and marketing strategies, building partnerships, and supporting entrepreneurs and startups. Over his career, Godfrey has worked on projects across sub-Saharan Africa related to off-grid energy access, climate action, economic empowerment, and technology for development. He is passionate about leveraging business and technology to create sustainable solutions for underserved communities. Godfrey holds an MBA in Technology Management and Marketing from Kenya Methodist University. He has completed additional training and certificates related to renewable energy, sustainability, project management, and business empowerment.

  • INNO-NEAT Energy Solutions is dedicated to addressing the global challenge of clean drinking water access. Its flagship product, Safisolar, is a solar-powered water filter that provides a sustainable and affordable solution for communities facing water scarcity and contamination issues. Safisolar combines innovative technology with solar energy to remove contaminants, including bacteria and viruses from water sources, ensuring safe and clean drinking water. The system incorporates advanced membrane filtration technologies to achieve high-quality water purification. It is portable, easy to use, and requires minimal maintenance. The system is offered to low-income off-grid communities through a Pay-as-you-Go model thereby lowering the costs of ownership for these communities.

Pritesh Yeole & Vinit Chaudhary, Aligned Composites Technology
Dr. Pritesh Yeole is a Co-founder of Aligned Composites Technology and Researcher at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. He has extensive experience in product development, design, manufacturing, testing, and modeling of advanced composites and engineered plastics. He earned Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in December 2020. During his Ph.D., he was honored with the Plastic Engineering (SPE) Foundation Herold Giles Composite Division Scholarship and the James A Euler Memorial Scholarship for outstanding student of the academic year 2018-2019. Pritesh serves as a Board of Director for SPE. He has authored more than 20 articles in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. Dr. Yeole was also the recipient of the Awards for Composites Excellence in CAMX 2019 and was a finalist for CAMX 2021, and CAMX 2022.

Vinit Chaudhary is a co-founder of Aligned Composites Technology, a venture that emerged from his research during his master's degree. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in December 2022 with a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. During his master’s program, he attended SPE and SAMPE conferences for student poster presentations and won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, for his research on recycled carbon fiber nonwovens.  Vinit brings to the table a unique blend of technical expertise and entrepreneurial insight, leveraging his family's successful background in the retail business. In this domain, he honed skills in asset management, sales, and supply chain management, overseeing assets generating around $6 million in annual revenue. He possesses 5 years of experience in designing and manufacturing advanced composites, with a current emphasis on employing clean manufacturing techniques to create a circular economy and manufacture aligned nonwovens intermediates.

  • Aligned Composites Technology is a University of Tennessee-based company specializing in carding technology for the production of nonwoven mats specifically designed for fiber-reinforced composites, with a focus on recycled carbon and natural fibers. By precisely aligning and blending fibers, the company creates anisotropic nonwoven mats with consistent and uniform fiber distribution. With its cutting-edge solutions, sustainable practices, and commitment to excellence, Aligned Composites Technology creates lightweight, durable, and high-performance aligned nonwoven preforms for a wide range of applications including automotive, medical equipment, sporting goods, infrastructure, and more.

Joseph J. James, Agri-Tech Producers
Joseph J. James is Founder & President of Agri-Tech Producers LLC (ATP), an AfricanAmerican-owned small business, involved in developing and utilizing innovative biomassrelated technologies, which cost-effectively capture atmospheric CO 2, cost-effectively remediate air, soils and water, and produce a variety of cost-advantaged bio-products.

Mr. James has had a 33-year career as an economic development professional, serving more than 25 of those years in leadership positions for localities and states, where he has been heavily involved in technology-led development. He completed a 6-year term as a Secretarial appointee on the federal Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee in 2017, and is a member of the Clean Energy Business Network. Mr. James received a BS, in Science, from Union College and has studied Law and Business Administration at New York University. He has received several awards, including being named a Purpose Prize winner, in 2008, for his work to include and uplift poor, rural communities of color in our nation’s “Bio-Economy”, and received a Meta Environmental Justice Award, in 2022.

  • Agri-Tech Producers uses its patented Combined Remediation and Bio-Product Production Process to plant, then multi-task fast and large-growing Bio-Crops to cost-effectively capture large amounts of atmospheric CO2, remediate air, soil, and water, and produce a variety of bio-products in which the captured carbon can be sequestered.



Md "Arif" Arifuzzaman

Md Arifuzzaman is an ORNL postdoctoral associate with more than 10 years of experience in synthetic chemistry, with a major focus on catalyst development and optimization, multistep synthesis, polymer deconstruction, polymer upcycling, novel recyclable polymers, vitrimers, and more. At ORNL, he developed an exceptionally efficient organocatalyst that can readily deconstruct and/or depolymerize various condensation polymers and their vast array of mixed plastic wastes into valuable chemicals. He furthered his knowledge by participating in the DOE’s Energy I-Corps program and ORNL’s I-Corps Lite. Both programs assisted him in developing a strategy for taking his idea and technology to market. Arif’s research has resulted in 20 peer-reviewed articles, a submitted provisional patent on mixed plastic deconstruction, a graduate research excellence award, and soon a nonprovisional international patent will be submitted. Arif received his PhD in organic chemistry from Iowa State University and an MS from Tennessee State University.

Shantonio Birch

Shantonio Birch is a first-generation college student, an immigrant with Jamaican heritage, and a recent PhD graduate from the University of Michigan’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Shantonio’s journey as a climate tech entrepreneur is an evolving one that began in the fall 2010 at the Perimeter College at Georgia State University, where he made the decision to pursue an engineering degree to mitigate the threats of climate change on coral reefs across the Caribbean region. He later got involved in climate tech research through numerous summer research experiences for undergraduates across the US, then transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he completed a BS degree in mechanical engineering. Shantonio is passionate about clean energy and has been a lifelong champion for energy equity and environmental justice. As part of his PhD dissertation, he laid the foundation for tackling a decades-old stalemate on the heating and cooling performance of thermoelectric materials and has recently transitioned into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ann Arbor, where he is the founder and CEO of the climate-tech startup known as ThermoVerse LLC. Shantonio seeks to use tech as an engine for social good and sees entrepreneurship as an effective route for achieving this. His upbringing as a Jamaican immigrant, a community college student, a first-generation college student, and now the first person in his family to bear the title “Doctor” has not only shaped his idea of impact but has also humbled him in his pursuit of a cleaner and more sustainable future for all.

Sarah Jordan

Sarah Jordan is an entrepreneur focused on metals innovation and efficiency. She co-founded Skuld to develop the additive manufacturing evaporative casting (AMEC). She has worked in additive manufacturing since 2015 and is a member of the America Makes Process Working Group, the Additive Manufacturing Users Group, and Women in 3D Printing. Sarah has a BS in metallurgical engineering and an MS in materials science and engineering from Ohio State University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. She is currently finishing her PhD in manufacturing engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with her dissertation focused on AMEC for 356 aluminum.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee did his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, has a PhD in molecular engineering from the University of Washington, and a BS in chemistry from Cornell University. His work focuses on the syntheses and applications of new polymer materials and reflects his aspirations to use technology to unlock new fields of engineering. Before his PhD, Daniel worked as a member of the enhanced problem-solving team at Shell Chemical LP doing root cause analyses for large reliability failures. Daniel co-founded Perseus Materials, Inc. with John Feist in 2022 and currently serves as CEO.

Manas Pathak

Manas Pathak is founder and CEO of EarthEn. He was born in India, where he grew up and attended the Indian Institutes of Technology (known as the MIT of India), and obtained BS and MS degrees in geology. He then immigrated to the United States, where he continued his education at the University of Utah, earning his PhD and MS in chemical engineering. He won numerous accolades and awards such as the Society of Petroleum Engineers Star fellowship and also met Dr. Palash Panja (now CTO of EarthEn) during his time there. After graduation, he worked at Intel where he spent five years leading a number of teams, including global energy, artificial intelligence, corporate strategy, and bushiness development. In 2021, he founded EarthEn and enrolled at Arizona State University to pursue his MBA. Manas was recently accepted in the 2023 cohort of DOE’s Incubating Market-Propelled Entrepreneurial-mindset at the Labs and Beyond (IMPEL) accelerator.


Marouane Salhi

Marouane Salhi is the co-founder and CEO of Qubit Engineering Inc., a quantum computing-based venture for the development of new optimization tools to be utilized by the wind energy industry. He obtained his PhD in computational and theoretical physics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship position with the intelligence community at ORNL, before joining the Creative Destruction Lab incubator program in 2018 at the University of Toronto Canada. His mission is to develop innovative quantum optimization algorithms to design wind farms with higher annual energy production and lower cost.


Ryan Spencer

Ryan Spencer is finalizing his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a focus on nondestructive testing (NDT) for composites and AM. He has over 10 years of experience with R&D within the NDT field, which includes proficient knowledge of ultrasound testing, acoustic emission, vibration analysis, infrared thermography, and digital image correlation. During these past 10 years, Ryan has been an active member of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT), which is the leading NDT society. He is a co-chair of the ASNT mentoring committee to organize student support within the society. He also received the 2019 ASNT Mentoring Award. Other recent awards include the MABE Department Outstanding Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering, Science Alliance GATE program, and a certificate of achievement and recognition from ORNL’s Composites Science and Technology section.


ETEC - UT Outreach Center
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Jennifer Johnsey
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Friday, October 20, 2023 (7:30 AM - 8:30 AM) (EDT)
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