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Nordic Track Proves To Be A Fast Track For SBU ‘Sparks’

Blowing into town: IceWind USA, a domestic spinoff of an Iceland-based energy company, is leveraging the advantages of Stony Brook University's Nordic Spark international business accelerator.


Stony Brook University’s Nordic foray is off to a fast start.

Nordic Spark, a virtual business accelerator for foreign clean-energy startups looking to enter U.S. markets,   launched last summer  with ambitious eyes set on Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The accelerator offers a six-month crash course in U.S. energy marketplaces, helping incoming businesses – particularly startups – find their place in the American clean-gen ecosystem.

Less than a year later, the program – combining the talents of SBU’s  Clean Energy Business Incubator Program and  Nordic Innovation House NY  – is already halfway to graduating its first two participants:   Nanom, an energy-storage pioneer supporting the net-zero revolution with groundbreaking nanotechnology, and   IceWind USA, a domestic spinoff specializing in   vertical-access wind turbines.

Both companies originated in Iceland and sense big opportunities in U.S. markets – exactly the kind of international clients organizers envisioned when they launched Nordic Spark, according to CEBIP Program Coordinator Amy Erickson.

Amy Erickson: It’s who you know.

“We have developed a really intense and well-rounded program for them,” Erickson told Innovate Long Island. “They’ve already gone through two culture sessions, one to understand the differences in U.S. employment and the other to assess overall differences in the business environment.”

The sessions, conducted via international videoconference, included “specialized speakers” and “real dialogue and understanding” between company representatives and the American presenters, Erickson noted.

The “Sparks,” as the program coordinator dubbed them, have also benefitted from sessions focused on American intellectual property law conducted by CEBIP Advisory Board members Anne Wolfson, a transactional attorney with   broad technology experience, and Ray Farrell, founding partner of internationally recognized Melville IP law firm   Carter, DeLuca & Farrell.

Other sessions designed for the “wider CEBIP audience” were also opened to the Icelandic innovators, according to Erickson, and this week, Nanom and IceWind USA representatives were slated for a virtual meet-and-greet with the super-powered   CEBIP Advisory Board. Deeper dives into American marketing, raising U.S. capital and “entrepreneurial immigration strategy” are on tap.

Erickson referenced a “boutique-like” approach to customizing CEBIP programming to match the specific needs of the Nordic Spark participants.

“They have plenty of opportunities to ask questions,” she added. “And they come away with a real understanding of the differences.”

Both companies are expected to graduate from the Nordic Spark program in September – and there will likely be many more to follow, according to Erickson, who estimated enough room at the virtual inn for up to 10 companies per six-month cohort.

She also noted “weekly calls” with Nordic Innovation House NY Executive Director Charles Lorum focused on attracting new companies to the SBU accelerator.

“Charles has his own network … that goes out and talks to potential participants,” she noted. “Anne Wolfson has her own separate network and knows a lot of companies through her practice also.”

Very much in line with CEBIP’s tried-and-true methods, attracting new Sparks is all about networking – and “we’re all trying to combine this outreach, these collaborations and links,” Erickson noted.

“And we’re all learning,” she said. “We have a real opportunity here with the feedback (from Nanom and IceWind USA) … it’s helping to really pull the program together.

“It’s just been a wonderful, positive experience on both sides, and for Nordic Innovation House,” Erickson added. “And for CEBIP to be part of this is pretty fabulous.”