Two Tech Startups Win Big at First Ever Virtual AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day; $300,000 Awarded
BloomOptix wins Grand Prize of $200,000;
Runner Up Vistex Composites wins $100,000
Rome, NY – The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI), together with Griffiss Institute is happy to announce the winners from the AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day and IDEA NY business accelerator competition, held earlier today, Thursday, July 16, 2020, virtually, for the first time ever, due to safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With nearly 167 registered to virtual attend, BloomOptix from Rochester, NY, pitched their way to the Grand Prize of $200,000, and runner-up, Vistex Composites, from Schenectady, NY, took home $100,000 for their startup!
The four remaining teams were awarded up to $8,000 in "consolation" prize money to reimburse for expenses incurred during the incubation process.
“The BloomOptix team is elated that we were chosen as worthy of first place. We couldn’t have done it without the support, tutelage, and guidance from the Commercialization Academy. We can’t wait to get to work innovating and advancing our company, and science as a whole, with this opportunity,” said BloomOptix Lean, Igor Mrdjen.
“We are very excited about this opportunity and what the future has in store for BloomOptix,” said Brittni Engels, BloomOptix Project Coordinator. “Winning the AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day will allow us to continue to expand and develop our innovative solution for detecting harmful algal blooms (HABs). We are eager to continue to combat this public health phenomenon within the Mohawk Valley region.”
"Vistex is honored to win this prize among so many talented New York State companies and especially the other finalists. Along with the Air Force Research Lab's material technology, this prize money will allow us to continue to grow our company and expand into additional products and markets," says Casey Hoffman, Vistex CEO. “Bringing composites to new markets has been the goal of Vistex from day one, and this prize money will help us to do just that."
Six teams from the current Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate Commercialization Academy, a national leader for facilitating the transfer of military technologies into the commercial marketplace, pitched their startup ideas in cyber security, big data, information systems, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for $300,000 in prize seed funding provided by IDEA NY.
The judges’ panel evaluated each startup based on such factors as: the ability of the business to affect the Mohawk Valley’s startup ecosystem and high-tech economy, the culture of innovation that has been created within the startup due to incorporating AFRL technology, the sustainability of the solution beyond the initial startup period and go-to market strategy.
The startups were incubated by Liddy Enterprises, while embarking on an acceleration process to either build a sustainable startup, or enhance technology from an already existing startup, with Department of Defense intellectual property from the Information Directorate.
“The Griffiss Institute is extremely excited to announce the winners of the IDEA NY Business Accelerator Competition,” said Bill Wolf, Griffiss Institute president. “Today’s event marks the culmination of the latest cohort of the AFRL Commercialization Academy and the start of the second IDEA NY Business Accelerator Program. Thanks to a New York State Grant, the IDEA NY is providing the funds and opportunity that will enable both, BloomOptix and Vistex Composites, to grow their business in the Mohawk Valley in ways that were never before possible. IDEA NY is enabling the Griffiss Institute to accelerate its mission in providing education, technical development and economic opportunities to new startup businesses in the Mohawk Valley.”
The six startup teams who took the virtual stage on Thursday were:
- Atolla Surveillance – Rockville Center, NY
- Atolla Surveillance is developing a sensor system for the counter-surveillance of micro air vehicles (MAVs) that would otherwise be undetectable.
- BloomOptix – Rochester, NY
- BloomOptix is focused on providing innovative, high-resolution, accurate and timely early harmful algal blooms (HABs) detection and future forecasting services through the collection of data using unmanned aerial and surface vehicles.
- Imagine Aerial – Manlius, NY
- Imagine Aerial is developing and deploying UAS and data innovations that revolutionize project delivery in building construction and maintenance, infrastructure, sports and public safety.
- Overseer – Oneida, NY
- Overseer is developing an online privacy and anonymity service through the use of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
- Seven Point Labs – Utica, NY
- Seven Point Labs is a data-specific SaaS company focusing on human-centered design for municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits.
- Vistex – Schenectady, NY
- Vistex Composites is a manufacturing innovation company that has developed disruptive technology for the manufacturing of advanced thermoset and thermoplastic composite products.
The Innovation & Development Entrepreneurial Accelerator, known as IDEA NY Mohawk Valley, is a business accelerator competition and twelve-month program that will incentivize promising entrepreneurs to create and grow viable commercial businesses in the Mohawk Valley region. This accelerator program is made possible by a $2 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant from New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
After today’s Demo Day, the winning teams will participate in the year-long IDEA NY accelerator program. Additional assistance will be provided to the teams through the Griffiss Institute Business Incubator, a Certified NYS Business Incubator. The winning teams will be required to reside their business in the Mohawk Valley region for a 12-month period after Demo Day.