Binghamton alums pioneer tech start-up in materials testing
In the spring of 2014, two years after graduating from Binghamton University’s Watson School of Engineering, Swasti Dey moved his tech start-up into the Innovative Technologies Complex, where it’s one of several new businesses growing in the university’s state-of-the-art incubator.
With the support of START-UP NY, Dey and Advanced Materials Analytics LLC (AMA) have already begun attracting clients from around the world, working closely with Binghamton faculty and students to develop the next generation of data acquisition systems for material characterization like pore size distribution, porosity, permeability, surface area, failure analysis, and much more.
“Affiliating with START-UP NY was the turning point for our company,” says CEO Dey, who co-founded AMA with his friend Nirupam Dey, PhD ’14, who works as director of research. “When we started, it was just the two of us and our backyard garage. Now, through START-UP NY, we’ve gained access to an enormous amount of resources. We have representational business space, conference facilities, and access to world-class characterization equipment at the University’s NYS Center of Excellence for Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging. Most importantly, we are able to engage professors, students, administrators and community mentors, which is all we really need to get down to work.”
As part of START-UP NY, the innovative program that establishes tax-free areas associated with colleges and universities across the state, AMA is able to avoid many of the struggles faced by emerging tech companies as it begins to expand its manufacturing base. On day one, the Deys launched their business with a fully equipped lab in a major research facility, surrounded by a pool of expert technicians, interns, and employees.
In the months since, the company has been steadily building the foundations for its two primary goals: engineering advanced instrumentation systems and providing industrial and institutional clients with access to data analysis and testing services. With so much innovation in energy, environment, bio-organic/inorganic composites, nanotechnology, and smart materials all over the globe, the consistent advancement in material research has left Swasti Dey feeling bullish. “The devil is indeed in the details,” he says, “which is why our organization is focused on building tools that go beyond those currently available to industry.”
AMA is currently developing hardware and software to more precisely evaluate materials for air flow resistance, porosity, pore size, and water vapor transmission. They’re crucial characteristics in testing any kind of material, with far-ranging impact that will affect applications in air filtration, water purification, sound absorption, data acquisition, membrane technology, chemical manufacturing, biomechanical engineering, oil and natural gas, the food and beverage industry, and medical and pharmaceutical development.
“It’s a good fit and a good partnership,” says Per Stromhaug, Binghamton’s assistant vice president for innovation and economic development. “There’s a lot of synergy between the company and the university, which is what we look for in START-UP NY, both in terms of using our facilities and in promoting experiential learning for our students. We’ve provided some resources, but AMA is coming to the table with customers in Europe, India, and across the United States, spreading the word about what Binghamton can do for technology.”
In the coming years, he expects to keep expanding Binghamton’s incubator program, which has 22 offices in the Innovative Technologies Complex, plus an additional 2,000 square feet available off-campus once the current start-ups outgrow their space. To Stromhaug, the program’s advantages are clear: students gain expertise, young companies establish a foothold, and once there’s a critical mass of tech start-ups, the region will develop a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, with an influx of new talent, new facilities, and new jobs. Already, AMA has committed to creating 13 new jobs and investing $415,500 in the local economy.
“This is a great platform for Binghamton students to begin their professional careers,” says Swasti Dey.
“They get to work with faculty members, they get to solve real-life problems, and with the support of START-UP NY, we’re creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem with a win-win proposition for everyone. The customers win, the community wins, the university wins, the government wins, the whole team wins. AMA believes strongly also in giving back, and has shown itself to be a resource and sounding board to prospective entrepreneurs, student ventures and recent additions to Binghamton’s incubator. The market opportunities are out there, and all we need to do is stay hungry and work together under a unifying vision.”
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