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06-07-2011

Clarkson University Student Entrepreneurs Receive Business Plan Award for Innovative Cold-climate Greenhouse

Clarkson University graduate students Daegan Gonyer and Sean Bonnell recently won a $5,000, second-place prize in the Cleantech/Sustainability Track of the New Energy New York (NENY) 2011 New York Business Plan Competition in Albany, N.Y.

Their business plan for the "Controlled Environment High-rise Farm” showed the economic feasibility and environmental benefits of developing a facility in the Potsdam, N.Y., region for growing produce year-round.

The two men, along with partner Shaun Jones, have developed their ideas from the initial vision through construction and operation of a pilot facility on the Clarkson campus, and now have established their own company -- Blue Sphere Industries Inc.

“We’re proud that a cross-disciplinary team of Clarkson students has again been recognized for its skills in the business plan competition," said Matthew Draper, deputy director of Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation. "The Blue Sphere Industries team continues to execute on its vision for their innovative idea and the Shipley Center is excited to be working with them. This formal recognition serves as evidence that the idea and the plan the team has in place is feasible and that through their perseverance, they will position themselves for the best possible chance for success.”

The fledgling company has been supported by Clarkson's Shipley Center, SPEED program (Student Projects for Experiential Engineering Design) and Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

Gonyer is pursuing a master of science degree in engineering science and received his bachelor of science in physics from Clarkson in 2009.

Bonnell received his MBA in May and his bachelor of science degree in engineering & management in 2010, and is now employed by Horizon Solutions, one of the lighting partners on the greenhouse design.

Jones is pursuing his master of engineering degree in civil engineering at Clarkson and received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 2010.

Their work to date has been funded primarily through grants from the EPA P3 Student Design Competition for Sustainability.

More details about the NENY competition are available at http://www.neny.org/neny/events/BusinessPlanCompetition.aspx .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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