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ECE Team Wins Business Plan Competition for New Battery Technology

ECE Team Wins Business Plan Competition for New Battery Technology

The FlexEl Team receives their first place award, from left to right: Karen Thornton, Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, Zeynep Dilli, Karl Renner, Neil Goldsman, and Dean Chang. Photo by Eric Schurr.
The FlexEl Team receives their first place award, from left to right: Karen Thornton, Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, Zeynep Dilli, Karl Renner, Neil Goldsman, and Dean Chang. Photo by Eric Schurr.

A team composed of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) faculty and students won first place in the University of Maryland's $75K Business Plan Competition, held on May 8 in the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building. Nine finalist faculty and student teams unveiled their new technology company plans to a group of distinguished judges from the region’s new venture community at the annual competition, which is organized by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech). Winners were selected in the information technology, life sciences, and undergraduate categories, while two teams received Warren Citrin Social Impact Awards.

FlexEl LLC, winner of $20K in the information technology division, has developed a proprietary battery that has more capacity than any other rechargeable, flexible, thin-film battery in the world. Team members include: ECE professors Marty Peckerar and Neil Goldsman; ECE research associate Zeynep Dilli; and Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, a graduate student in the Master’s Program in Telecommunications. The company’s environmentally friendly batteries recharge wirelessly at extremely low voltages, enabling them to take advantage of energy scavenging techniques not feasible with other batteries. They are well suited to power ultra-small electronics, including wireless sensor networks, implantable medical devices, RFID devices and smart cards, and could outlast many of those devices. FlexEl’s batteries can be manufactured using a cost-effective printing process.

Inari, a finalist team in the undergraduate category, included Christina Lam, an ECE undergraduate student. Inari provides print advertisers with the ability to push information to the mobile devices of interested consumers, while protecting those consumers from unwanted spam. Inari will sell its services based on the number of text message requests for information received from customers. As the first fully automated national provider of mobile marketing solutions for small and medium sized businesses, Inari will provide its clients with a simple, affordable solution to supplement their current advertising campaigns. The Inari team was composed of Benjamin Kubic, undergraduate student, operations management, and government and politics; Katherine Bodner, undergraduate student, department of mechanical engineering; Jonathan Chung, undergraduate student, department of mechanical engineering; and Christina Lam.

“These companies have genuine potential to address billion dollar needs and pain points in our society,” says Dean Chang, director of Mtech’s ventures and education programs and director of the Technology Advancement Program. “Best of all, they are all built upon promising technologies developed right here at the University of Maryland, which reflects the increasingly significant role the University plays in fostering innovation and driving the future of this region’s economy.”

New to the competition this year was $25K for the Warren Citrin Social Impact Award, made possible by a donation from Warren Citrin, co-founder of Gloto, and Solipsys (now Raytheon Solipsys).

Sponsors for the competition included Fish & Richardson P.C., Nixon Peabody LLP, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

Judges for the competition included: Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director, Amplifier Ventures; Henry Ahn, Program Manager, TEDCO; Lou Cantolupo, Bio Entrepreneur, co-founder, Omnia Biologics; Melissa Carrier, Executive Director, Social Value Creation; Warren Citrin, co-founder of Gloto, and Solipsys (now Raytheon Solipsys); Martha Connolly, Director MIPS and Mtech Partnerships; Craig Dye, Affinity Lab; Michael Gutch, Member, Life Sciences Team, H.I.G. Ventures; Mark Grovic, General Partner, New Markets Venture Partners; Rich Harris, General Partner and Founder, RedShift Ventures; Karl Renner, Principal, Fish and Richardson; and Jeffrey N. Townes, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP.

To view a complete list of the finalists and winners, visit the $75K Business Plan Competition website.

May 12, 2009


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