Industry 4.0 concept

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hardware Scaleup?

Hardware Scaleup is a program that helps entrepreneurs develop a comprehensive roadmap for scaling their climate tech prototype product into a design that’s easy to manufacture and mass produce in New York State. It also provides the support and resources to speed time to market, and reduce risks, waste and costs along the way.

Who runs the manufacturing program?

There are two manufacturing programs funded by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to accelerate the commercialization of climate tech hardware. They are administered by two organizations to allow startups to participate at a location that is close to their business:
  • NextCorps Hardware Scaleup—located in Rochester, NY—serves entrepreneurs and manufacturing partners in upstate New York
  • SecondMuse M-Corps—located in New York City—serves entrepreneurs and manufacturing partners in downstate New York

How can Hardware Scaleup help my company?

Establishing manufacturing processes for emerging climate tech involves many cycles of iteration and development. It also requires manufacturers to develop new capabilities to support novel production and compliance requirements. This is an area where entrepreneurs typically lack knowledge, experience and resources, creating greater economic and business risks for all involved.

For example, products made by new or unproven manufacturing processes are more costly, prone to quality problems, may not perform the same, and take longer to get to market.

NextCorps Hardware Scaleup addresses these challenges and more. It combines a rigorous process, expert hands-on help, and access to design engineers, manufacturers, suppliers and investors to help startups develop a faster and less expensive path to market than they will experience on their own.

What type of topics does the Hardware Scaleup program cover?

During the 9 to 12 month program, participants will receive immersive training on manufacturing and business planning to gain an understanding of the overall manufacturing process, and the stages that will lead to manufacturing maturity for your climate technology.

You’ll follow a systematic process for creating a manufacturing capability for your hardware, using a Manufacturing Management Standard called Manufacturing Readiness Levels. MRLs are patterned after Technology Readiness Levels, a methodology for estimating the maturity of technology elements. You’ll use this approach to thoroughly assess, manage and mitigate risks in nine Manufacturing Readiness Levels to anticipate and resolve issues. These areas include: Technology & the Industrial Base, Design, Materials, Cost & Funding, Process Capability and Control, Quality Management, Manufacturing Personnel, Facilities, and Manufacturing Planning.

In moving through these topics, our mentors will work with you to ensure you’ve answered critical questions to achieving a higher manufacturing readiness level. These include:

Is the design ready?Is it stable? Reproducible? Have key design characteristics been identified?
Are materials ready?Are materials available? Have they been characterized? Are there any special handling issues?
Are resources ready?Are production costs understood? Have design-to-cost goals been established? Is funding in place to cover production maturation?
Are processes ready?Have critical processes been identified and demonstrated? Are those processes stable and in control?
Are manufacturing personnel ready?Are there any special skills required? Are personnel trained and/or certified? Is the workforce stable?
Are manufacturing facilities ready?Are the facilities in place? Can they support the production rate? Will the facilities layout support lean production?
Is the Manufacturing Plan ready?Has a Manufacturing Plan been completed? Is the supply chain integrated into the plan? Have long-lead items been identified?

What type of companies are a good fit for NYSERDA’s manufacturing programs?

This free support are competitive, cohort-based programs that requires a 9-12 month commitment. Up to 10 teams will be selected for each cohort. To qualify, you must have:  

  • A willingness to learn and share, and be a part of the cohort
  • A team in place with a dedicated member to commit to regular programming (10-12 hours per month, with your technical lead involved with CEO buy-in)
  • A works-like and/or looks-like prototype for climate technology* that has a hardware component
  • Operations based in New York State, or if the team or company is not based in NY, the company should provide a benefit to the state
  • Funding in place to contribute to manufacturing your product

NYSERDA and the program administers do not take equity in the participating companies.

*Climate technology is defined as innovation that supports decarbonization of the economy through hardware, hardware-enabled software, technology-enabled services, hardware-enabled data analytics, or processes that broadly reduce energy consumption, increase resource efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and/or enables the transition to a sustainable and decarbonized economy

What type of climate tech hardware does the startup need to be eligible for Hardware Scaleup?

Examples of climate tech could include (but are not limited to) sustainable energy sources, such as renewable, solar, geothermal and biomass energy; battery fuel cells; wind and hydro power. It also includes technologies that improve conventional energy production processes to reduce or optimize the use of natural resources, such as greenhouse gas emission control.

What defines a viable prototype for my climate tech energy hardware product?

The prototype for your climate tech hardware must be based on customer discovery, meaning that there’s evidence that there is market need/opportunity, and the offering can be profitable. The prototype needs to “work-like/look-like” the envisioned product, and be at Technology Readiness Level 3 (TRL3) or above.  To assess the TRL level of your startup’s offering, use NYSERDA’s TRL Calculator.

How much funding do I need to have allocated to manufacturing in order to be eligible?

You must have financial resources sufficient to sustain your startup and begin the process for manufacturing readiness.  For many hardware startups this may be $100,000 or more in accessible funds.

How does my company apply to participate in Hardware Scaleup?

Interested startups need to fill Hardware Scaleup Application.

The Hardware Scaleup Advisory Board will review applications and schedule a brief call to learn more about your startup and the technology to assess if there is an optimal fit for participation.

What criteria is used in the selection process?

Hardware Scaleup is a competitive, cohort-based program that requires an 18-month commitment. Only eight teams will be selected for each cohort.  Criteria will include:

  • The potential for the clean energy hardware, from a market, manufacturing and investor perspective
  • The stage of the clean energy hardware, from a development, testing and iteration standpoint (must be TRL 3 or higher)
  • Strength of candidate commitment, including willingness to honor time requirements, the financial status of company, the amount of funds allocated for manufacturing, and the ability to cover travel expenses to attend weekly and monthly meetings and events
  • Business location— in New York State or willing to relocate to New York
  • Timeline and goals—ability to manufacture products within 2-5 years

Should I apply to both NextCorps and SecondMuse to increase my chances of acceptance?

No. The common application form covers both programs.

Does it cost anything to participate in NextCorps Hardware Scaleup?

No. The program itself is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA and the administrators of the programs also do not take equity in your company. However, you do need to cover your own travel expenses to attend weekly and monthly program meetings and events, should in-person events become available if restrictions under COVID-19 lift.

Can my startup attend educational sessions if we’re not a participant in Hardware Scaleup?

There will be educational sessions that will benefit startups moving into the manufacturing phase. If you’d like to be kept informed of these opportunities, sign up for our newsletter.

What type of access will I get to potential investors?

Hardware Scaleup has investors on its advisory and accountability boards. The program will also include Demo Day-type events to give participants an opportunity to share their innovations and business plans with those who can help fund their business.


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