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01/18/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/18/2017 10:25

Purdue innovator selected for Argonne’s first entrepreneurship program; Discovery Park-based Purdue Foundry also to serve in mentorship capacity

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., and LEMONT, Ill. - A Purdue graduate student who is developing technology that could turn nuclear waste into energy, has been selected as one of five innovators in a newly embedded entrepreneurship program at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Ian Hamilton, a graduate student in Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering, was selected for Argonne's Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) program.

'I'm excited for this opportunity to develop my ideas through the program and utilize the ample resources it offers,' Hamilton said. 'More specifically, my goal while participating in CRI is to create new long-lived, lightweight, weather-independent power by recycling the byproduct of nuclear waste decay to create electricity.'

The Chain Reaction Innovations program is part of a new initiative to accelerate the development of sustainable and energy-efficient technologies and drive manufacturing growth by helping startups and innovators reduce development costs and risks.

As part of CRI, Argonne also announced a partnership with the Purdue Foundry, a startup accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, which will serve as a mentor organization for the innovators. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago will serve as the second mentor.

'Discovery Park is very excited about the new partnership with Argonne,' said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, chief scientist and executive director of Discovery Park, Purdue University's complex for major interdisciplinary research activities. 'The Foundry's successful track record of bringing Purdue technologies to market makes them an ideal mentorship partner and could potentially lead to more partnerships and opportunities with Argonne and other national labs.'

A panel of judges selected the inaugural cohort of five Chain Reaction innovators, representing four projects, from more than 100 applications from 22 states. Over a two-year period the innovators will receive funding and access to world-class facilities, equipment, tools and experts. The program is funded through the DOE's Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Hamilton credits much of his success to the Purdue Foundry. Atlas Energy Systems, a startup he helped co-found, was a recipient of the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund Black Award in 2015 and received $20,000 in funding.

'Without the initial funding we received through the Purdue Foundry we wouldn't have been able to build the original experiments. The funding, as well as the overall support from the Foundry and entrepreneurs-in-residence, was instrumental in keeping Atlas going these last few years,' Hamilton said. 'The Foundry brought the application for CRI to me and encouraged me to apply. They helped me refine my presentation into a pitch, which I strongly believe was crucial to being accepted.'

Hamilton's story is the perfect example of the impact the Foundry can have, Díaz de la Rubia said.

'The Purdue Foundry is a unique part of the Discovery Park innovation ecosystem, which exists to allow Purdue researchers, entrepreneurs and students like Ian to commercialize new solutions and big ideas that tackle the global grand challenges,' he said. 'The Foundry and Discovery Park's success in West Lafayette of bringing cutting-edge technologies to market can be translated across the country.'

Hamilton, along with three other Purdue alumni - Josh Auger, Kyle Harris and Kyle Pendergast - founded Atlas Energy Systems in 2014 as undergraduates. The company was founded to further develop and commercialize a device that could take spent nuclear fuel or waste and convert the residual radiation energy into usable electric power. The technology was invented by Hamilton, who is the only one still actively involved in the company. Hamilton said he is excited about where this opportunity could take him and Atlas Energy Systems.

'The program encourages us to reach out to potential customers first in order to establish market needs so that we can create a viable product that companies actually want, so that will be my first step,' he said. 'I view this as the starting point for Atlas Energy Systems. This first concept I'm developing is only one of many I have. I believe, with the help of Argonne, if I can prove this concept and develop a viable product, then other ideas can springboard off this experience and really take the company to a full-scale large company and begin to make a global impact.'

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at http://www.purduefoundry.com

About Discovery Park at Purdue University

Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policy makers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships.

About Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, [email protected]

Source: Ian Hamilton, 260-466-2301, [email protected]

Tomas de la Rubia, 765-496-6625, [email protected]