Hardware Scaleup Team

Instructional Staff

Educational sessions and training will be provided throughout the program to give participants what they need to know to navigate the manufacturing process and to adapt their business planning accordingly. Many of these sessions will be open to entrepreneurs who were not selected for the program, but who could benefit from instructional opportunities.  Here’s just a few members on Hardware Scaleup instructional staff.

Mike Riedlinger

Mike Riedlinger is the Executive Director of Technology Commercialization at NextCorps. He has created programs including NextCorps LaunchPad for web and mobile startups by drawing on his experiences from founding and co-founding eight startups (including one that became publicly-traded) as well as training through the National Science Foundation iCorps Program at Stanford University.

Invention and creativity are key areas of interest for Mike, who holds a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology and a MBA from the University of Rochester, where he is currently a Lecturer in Technical Entrepreneurship Management. He also is a teaching team member for the NSF National I-Corps program and instructor for the I-Corps Regional Node led by Cornell, University of Rochester and RIT.

Mike revels in the rich history of regional innovations in agriculture, computing, medical devices, optics, and telecommunications. He serves on the Industrial Advisory Board at the Cornell Center for Materials Research and supports educational outreach programs including Cornell’s Lending Library of Experiments and the Rochester chapter of Engineering World Health.

Ken Rother

Ken Rother is the Director of REV in Ithaca, as well as its Hardware Entrepreneurship program. He is the Managing Director of Cornell’s eLab student accelerator program, teaches entrepreneurship at the Johnson School, instructs and coaches in several technology commercialization rograms including NSF I-Coprs, and is a Venture partner at Cayuga Venture Fund. Ken has held multiple senior business and technical positions for organizations such as Discovery communications, Reuters, Matrox, and the Toronto Stock Exchange. He has direct startup experience having co-founded a software business in Toronto and joining an early stage online media business in New York, both of these startups concluded with successful exits. Most recently Ken was the Senior Vice President of Digital Media at Discovery.

Brian Hilton is the senior research engineer for Sustainable Design at Rochester Institute of Technology, Golisano Institute for Sustainability. He has more than 25 years of industrial product design and development experience spanning from clean sheet concept-inception through fully-automated, high-speed production at domestic and international assembly plants; and holds 58 international patents (including 29 U.S patents). He currently provides expertise and management on industrial and government sponsored research projects focused on improving the product life cycle, sustainable design, manufacturing, remanufacturing, and technology readiness.

Annette Brenner

Annette Brenner is Client Development Manager at NextCorps, where she identifies and develops new clients and projects and promotes NextCorps’ manufacturing growth services to the region’s small and mid-sized manufacturers. These projects include strategic business solutions and growth services, lean enterprises, quality management, market development, product design, and prototyping. Annette strategizes to assist companies in identifying the best service provider and potential funding resources. She has chemical engineering degrees from the University of Akron and the University of Kentucky and an MBA from the Simon School of Business.


Hardware Scaleup provides startups with experienced mentors and advisors. Our team includes serial entrepreneurs, industry experts, technologists, manufacturers, suppliers, and investors—all who are committed to helping startups succeed.

Hardware Scaleup will assess participants’ needs and assign mentors with the most appropriate experience. Mentors will be selected once the needs of the inaugural cohort have been identified.

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy has worked in the plastics, chemical and metal processing markets in positions ranging from field sales/product management to senior management to ownership of a $40 million dollar company. He was an owner and leader at Rochling Advent Tool and Mold, where he was responsible for the creation, staffing and execution of strategic plans. Jim also was a senior executive at the turnaround of a family held metal processing company and held various positions at multinational Mobil Chemical Company. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Boston College, an M.B.A. from Babson College and a Lean/Six Sigma Black belt from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Joe Dickson

Joe Dickson is a veteran entrepreneur who has served as founder or C-Level executive of seven high-tech startups across multiple sectors. His areas of primary focus and expertise are advanced materials, IT, renewable energy, microelectronics, medical devices, biotech, and green tech/climate tech business development. Joe has helped raise over $50M in venture and private equity capital, and also has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions. He is an expert in business and financial modeling, market validation, strategic positioning, and business plan execution. Joe has a B.S. in Chemistry from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester. He is currently President of e2e Materials, Inc.

Mark Sperry

Mark Sperry is a C-level leader with 35 years of broad-ranging, global experience in the industrial and climate tech energy sectors. He has expertise in strategy, marketing and sales, mergers and acquisitions and securing private and public sector funding. Mark is the President and CEO of Sperry Energy, a strategic advisory services company, and a founder and Managing Member of Combined Energies; a New York State startup focused on the commercialization of specialized power electronics and related technologies. Most recently, Mark served as Interim CEO of MPOWERD. Mark holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Dickinson College and an M.B.A. from Syracuse University.

Rich Delmerico

Rich Delmerico has over 30 years of experience as a technology and business professional, with extensive leadership expertise in global product and systems development, commercialization, operations, and manufacturing. Rich most recently led an early stage high technology Cornell based materials startup from seed to VC monies while developing and maturing the technology. He has a passion for mentoring diverse and inclusive teams, coaching startups, improving operational efficiency and delivering products and services to market. Rich has an M.S. in Manufacturing Systems from Clarkson and a B.S. in Electrical & Industrial Engineering from SUNY Buffalo.

Accountability Team Members

Alice Nichols

Alice Nichols is an executive facilitator around strategy and major change initiatives in corporate, healthcare, educational and non-profit She is a climate tech and energy efficiency champion with entrepreneurs. In addition, she is a National Science Foundation I CorpsNational instructor and New England Node MIT instructor.

Andrea Ippolito

Andrea Ippolito is the Executive Director of the Engineering Management Program at Cornell University. Previously, she served as Director of the Innovators Network at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and prior to that, as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the VA Center for. She previously was a Ph.D. student in Engineering Systems at MIT, co-founder of Smart Scheduling, Innovation Specialist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub, and Co-Director of MIT’s Hacking Medicine. She completed her M.S. in Engineering & Management at MIT. She obtained her B.S. in Biological Engineering and her M.Eng. in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 from Cornell University.

Annette Brenner

Annette Brenner is Client Development Manager at NextCorps, where she identifies and develops new clients and projects and promotes NextCorps’ manufacturing growth services to the region’s small and mid-sized manufacturers. These projects include strategic business solutions and growth services, lean enterprises, quality management, market development, product design, and prototyping. Annette strategizes to assist companies in identifying the best service provider and potential funding resources. She has chemical engineering degrees from the University of Akron and the University of Kentucky and an MBA from the Simon School of Business.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer is the Program Director for clean energy programs with Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Brian runs 76West, NYSERDA’s clean energy business competition, and is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Southern Tier Startup Alliance. Brian is a seasoned energy industry executive with extensive experience in oil, natural gas, chemicals, and renewables. He has expertise in operations, strategy, business development, mergers and acquisitions, major project management, corporate governance and organizational change. Brian has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Doug Buerkle

Doug Buerkle has held various executive positions in industry where he guided the rapid growth of multiple technology companies. Doug was co-founder and CEO of Lumella, Inc., an optical component startup, which he exited through the sale of the company’s silicon photonics IP to a Global 1000 firm. For the past five years is has served as Executive Director of NextCorps’ NEXUS-NY program, that helped catalyze and accelerate early stage, clean energy startup companies. Through its financial and business support, NEXUS-NY has helped launch more than a dozen new companies since 2014. He holds an MBA from the Simon School and a B.S. in Engineering from Temple University.

James LoGerfo

Jim LoGerfo has been working with energy and environmental technology companies for nearly two decades as an investor, advisor, board member, mentor and founder. Jim is currently a partner at Earthrise Capital, a venture fund investing in climate technology companies. He is also the founder and principal of Vortex Energy, a strategic advisory firm providing consulting services, fundraising and M&A support, and interim management solutions.

Julia Byrd

Julia Byrd is the Assistant Director at PowerBridgeNY, where she manages the day-to-day operations. She works closely with the teams and soon-to-be startup companies teaching them the Lean LaunchPad methodology and ensuring they are working toward identifying their initial target market. Julia is also an instructor for the New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN) regional I-Corps program. Julia received a B.A. from George Washington in Environmental Studies and Russian Language and Literature as well as an M.S. in Sustainability Management from Columbia.

Aaron Proujansky Accountability Team

Aaron Proujansky is an angel investor in the Ithaca, NY partnership Greengage, LLC., with a particular passion for sustainable and innovative technologies. He has also enjoyed serving as a mentor in the 76West, Rev Hardware Accelerator, and Life Changing Labs Summer Incubator programs.

Mark Schrader

Mark Schrader is Business Development Analyst at NextCorps, where he connects small and medium-sized manufacturing firms with technical services and resources that remove barriers to growth, improve productivity, and expand capacity. Prior to joining NextCorps, Mark was director of commercialization practice at Foresight Science and Technology, where he developed business plans and market research reports for high tech firms. He was also a career officer in the U.S. Air Force where he served in operational, technical, and staff positions. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Buffalo and an M.S. in Meteorology from Penn State University.

Mike Sisson

Mike Sisson is a Senior Business Consultant at NextCorps and has over 30 years of diverse manufacturing and economic development experience with manufacturing firms in the Finger Lakes Region. His passion is working with small/medium size manufacturing companies across a variety of industries, such as fabricated metals, medical, plastics, food and agriculture processing, optics, and metal finishing. He assists them with manufacturing operations, strategic planning, business plan development, and funding resources. Mike holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. from the Simon Business School.

Rami Katz

Rami Katz is the Chief Operating Officer for Excell Partners, a seed-stage VC fund focused on Upstate New York. Rami manages Excell’s due-diligence and investment processes. Prior to joining Excell, Rami helped entrepreneurs raise over $40M as part of a regional incubator, and launched several ventures of his own. Before moving to the U.S., Rami practiced law in Israel, managing a legal team focused on litigation, banking and corporate law. After launching his own legal and management consulting practice in Israel, Rami was one the founding members of a seed-stage investment group. Rami earned his MBA from the University of Rochester and his law degree from Tel-Aviv University in Israel.

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