South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

$300K in winnings announced at Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Venture Conference

Read Time 6 Minutes

The 16th annual Florida Venture Early Stage Conference brought together over 400 investors and entrepreneurs and announced the recipients of $300,000 in award dollars and investment this week.

The Florida Venture Forum is Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, helping fast-growth companies connect with sources of capital from across the country. Since 1984, over 2000 companies have presented at Forum events and raised upwards of $16B in equity capital, producing billions more in economic value to Florida. The Forum’s 500+ members represent a “who’s who” of venture capital and private equity dealmakers, including equity and debt investors at all stages, major law, accounting, and investment banking firms, and large corporates active in the innovation ecosystem. The Forum provides programs and programming statewide throughout the year in addition to hosting major annual conferences like the Florida Venture Capital Conference, the Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition, the Early Stage Venture Conference, and industry-focused events including aerospace and healthcare.

A record breaking year for attendance, the Florida Early Stage Venture Conference featured presentations from 40 selected early stage companies, as well as keynote speakers, educational sessions, and other networking opportunities. The two-day conference also included the Space Florida AeroTech Summit, featuring presenters and programming relevant to the space and aerospace industries, and the Forum’s Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition, during which startup teams from 10+ Florida colleges and universities competed for award dollars. A panel of judges evaluated each eligible company’s presentation and supporting materials.

The funding below was provided by Forum members Space Florida, DeepWork Capital, and Florida Power & Light’s Innovation Hub, 35 Mules.

Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum, said, “Congratulations to our winning companies – and all our presenters, who were chosen from hundreds of applicants in a very competitive process. And thank you to our partners and members at DeepWork Capital, Florida Power & Light Company, and Space Florida, and to all our sponsors, attendees, staff and volunteers.”

“We extend our congratulations to the winning Florida startups and all those who participated,” said Danielle Mousseau, Manager of Florida Power & Light Company’s 35 Mules Innovation Hub. “Their success not only reflects their dedication and talent within the ecosystem, but also emphasizes the innovation thriving within Florida and in the emerging technology industry we have here.”

Rob Long, president and CEO of Space Florida, said, “We extend our congratulations to all six companies that were awarded investment dollars at this week’s Early Stage Venture Conference. Innovators like these are crucial for meeting the demand of the burgeoning commercial space industry, and we look forward to seeing the great work they will do to propel Florida forward.”

THE WINNERS ARE:

  • X-Lumin (Merritt Island, FL) – Accelerating Innovation Award – $75,000 from Space FloridaX-lumin is powering the widespread use of wireless communication services to enable others to digital, secure, and exchange data “from light.”  They provide turn-key systems for ground to space laser communication, land based optical wireless communication, and space situational awareness with advanced integration capabilities.

 

  • HelixVM (Boca Raton, FL) – Grand Prize – $50,000 from Florida Power & Light
    HelixVM has built a software platform that dramatically increases physician productivity while increasing patient access. There are two go-to-market strategies- the first being the “Uber of Healthcare,” known as the HelixVM Marketplace. The HelixVM Marketplace provides rapid health care, often without a video visit, to patients across the US. As patients enjoy health care at any time, physicians appreciate significant income opportunities. In 2024, HelixVM will introduce the second strategy, leveraging its platform and marketplace expertise to extend these dramatic productivity enhancements into physician practices.

 

  • Algas Organics (Miami, FL) – Runner Up – $20,000 each from Florida Power & Light and Space Florida
    Algas Organics addresses the deforestation and sustainability challenges faced by packaging, paper, and pulp companies by replacing traditional deforestation-derived wood-based fiber with a novel, cost-effective seaweed-based solution. Their low-cost seaweed-based pulp fiber can be blended with wood pulp to produce paper and packaging whilst reducing deforestation.

 

  • Lonestar Data Holdings Inc. (St. Petersburg, FL) – Runner Up – $20,000 each from Florida Power & Light and Space Florida
    Lonestar Data Holdings’ goal is Global Backup, Global Refresh, and Global Restore. Their mission is to apply abundance thinking and exponential technologies to the endless possibilities of lunar data storage for the human race, and in so doing to the exploration of the Moon and beyond. Lonestar’s vision is fueled by remarkable investors led by Scout Ventures, 2 Future Holdings, Seldor Capital, and the Veteran Fund. Irongate Global Capital, Atypical Ventures, Kittyhawk Ventures, and Backswing Ventures. Lonestar is committed to a carbon negative future.

 

  • Unbound Disability Claims Inc. (Orlando, FL) – Collegiate Award (University of Central Florida)– $5,000 each from Florida Power & Light and Space Florida
    Unbound Disability Claims is on a mission to transform the Social Security Disability (SSD) application process, providing a lifeline to the 62% of applicants facing improper denials.

 

  • NanoSense (Boca Raton, FL) – Collegiate Award (Florida Atlantic University) – $5,000 each from Florida Power & Light and Space Florida
    NanoSense stands at the forefront of accessible medical diagnostics, spearheading a revolution in healthcare through its groundbreaking nanosensor array technology.

  • X-Lumin (Merritt Island, FL) – Capital Investment – $125,000 from DeepWork Capital
    X-lumin is powering the widespread use of wireless communication services to enable others to digital, secure, and exchange data “from light.” They provide turn-key systems for ground to space laser communication, land based optical wireless communication, and space situational awareness with advanced integration capabilities.

Perhaps most impressive is this year’s Collegiate Winner, Abigial Sinu, from NanoSense who competed against all traditional college students as a high school student from Florida Atlantic’s A.D. Henderson University School & FAU High School which just received top honors in the 2024 Niche ‘Best Schools’ rankings, earning No. 3 as best high school within the state of Florida. Abigail is dual enrolled at Florida Atlantic University and involved in the FAU Wave Program, an NSF I-Corp participant, and Won First Place at the FAU Business Pitch Competition (Undergraduate Student Track) earlier this year. Abigail is dual enrolled at Florida Atlantic University and with aspirations to graduate with a Double Concentration in Medical Biology & Neuroscience and Behavior, expected in the summer of 2025.

One company, X-Lumin received not one, but two awards, and one of which was Capital Investment from DeepWork Capital, the Orlando-based capital investment firm known for launching and leading the Florida Opportunity Fund.

DeepWork Capital, invests professionally managed committed venture capital in growth-oriented, early-stage companies in the technology and life science sectors. We partner with visionary entrepreneurs building disruptive companies. DeepWork works closely with other investment groups and takes a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies.

“The presenting companies showed why the early stage ecosystem in Florida is alive and well,” said Benjamin Patz, Manager of DeepWork Capital. “We were impressed with the quality of the companies presenting and will be reaching out to several for further discussions.”

Kevin Burgoyne, CEO of Florida Venture Forum, also shared, “This year’s conference shattered several records, including beating our prior attendance record by 25+%! We take this a very positive sign for Florida’s startup ecosystem.”

To learn more about Florida Venture Forum, visit www.flventure.org

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Venture Forum announces a record number of companies to pitch at Florida Early Stage Conference

Read Time 9 Minutes

Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, today announced a record number of the companies selected to present at its 2024 Florida Early Stage Venture Conference, being held at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, June 4 – 5, 2024. 

The 2024 Florida Early Stage Venture Conference also will feature the Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition, with 10 colleges and universities participating, and the Space Florida AeroTech Summit, featuring presentations and programming relevant to aerospace and related technologies.

Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of Florida Venture Forum, said, “The breadth and quality of our 2024 presenting companies is incredible, and our selection committee did an amazing – and difficult – job of reviewing a record number of applications to select them. On behalf of our members and staff I want to thank the committee as well as our sponsors and partners for helping us build what promises to be a record-breaking conference.”

The Florida Venture Forum is Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, helping companies with headquarters, operations or supply chain in Florida connect with sources of capital from across the country. Since 1984, over 2000 companies have presented at Forum events and have gone on to raise more than $16B in equity capital and contribute well over that amount in total economic value to Florida. The Forum’s membership represents a “Who’s who” of venture capital and private equity dealmakers, including equity and debt investors at all stages, as well as major law, accounting, and investment banking firms, and large corporates active in the innovation ecosystem. The Forum provides programs and programming statewide throughout the year in addition to hosting major annual conferences like the Florida Venture Capital Conference, the Statewide Collegiate Start-up Competition, the Early Stage Venture Conference, and industry-focused events.

South Florida Tech Hub member company and Boca Raton-based startup, Cuemby, an ecosystem that simplifies the deployment of applications on the cloud through their AI-powered platform, will be pitchng at this year’s conference for the first time. The company has a large presence in Latin America and is now making a name for themselves in the United States starting with Florida.

“As Cuemby prepares to pitch at Florida Venture Forum’s 2024 Florida Early Stage Venture Conference, we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to connect with top funders, innovative companies, and active investors,” Angel Ramirez, CEO & Co-founder of Cuemby and one of the South Florida startups pitching at the conference.

“Accepting the chance to present in front of our peers and the larger tech community is a tremendous honor. It’s an opportunity to showcase our AI-powered platform, which simplifies cloud application deployment, enhances developer productivity, and ensures robust security. We’re delighted to share our vision and contribute to Florida’s vibrant startup ecosystem!

Ben Patz, managing partner at DeepWork Capital and conference selection chair, said, “This year we have seen an exciting range of impressive applicants from across the state. By having three tracks for presenting companies, we are able to showcase those innovative aerospace technology focused companies along with a separate track for innovative early stage companies more broadly. All this with truly innovative collegiate companies. There will be something engaging for all early stage investors.”

 

Early Stage participating companies, by South, Central and North Florida regions:

SOUTH FLORIDA

  • Algas Organics (Miami) – Addresses the deforestation and sustainability challenges faced by packaging, paper, and pulp companies by replacing traditional deforestation-derived wood-based fiber with a novel, cost-effective seaweed-based solution. Their low-cost seaweed-based pulp fiber can be blended with wood pulp to produce paper and packaging whilst reducing deforestation.
  • Cuemby (Boca Raton) – An ecosystem that simplifies the deployment of applications on the cloud. Their AI-powered platform is designed to enhance developers’ productivity, supply robust security, and ensure cost efficiency. They are a community that empowers developers worldwide with innovative tools and services.
  • HelixVM (Boca Raton) – Built a software platform that dramatically increases physician productivity while increasing patient access. There are two go-to-market strategies- the first being the “Uber of Healthcare,” known as the HelixVM Marketplace. The HelixVM Marketplace provides rapid health care, often without a video visit, to patients across the US. As patients enjoy health care at any time, physicians appreciate significant income opportunity. In 2024, HelixVM will introduce the second strategy, leveraging its platform and marketplace expertise to extend these dramatic productivity enhancements into physician practices.
  • Woof (Miami) – A pet id that provides a system of records (SaaS) to enterprises (business and governments) that can benefit from pet data as a tool to drive engagement, human-pet wellness, and mental health, while reducing pet parenting costs and complexities.
  • HealthMe Technology (Naples) – A physician-founded digital healthcare platform that improves and automates the delivery of healthcare to patients and employers who pay directly for their healthcare. This growing group of directpay patients include employees of self-insured businesses, independent small business owners, and those disenfranchised by the high cost of health insurance.

 

CENTRAL REGION

  • Agora World (Orlando) – A “Canva for 3D” – a No-code Social XR Creation Suite for teams to create collaborative, photorealistic, 3D experiences and digital twins in minutes. Agora World is revolutionizing digital twin creation by offering an intuitive, no-code platform that transforms complex 3D design into a seamless, drag-and-drop experience.
  • Everix (Orlando) – Enables mass deployment of compact personal health and technology devices with features that were unaffordable in the past. They transform an inexpensive polymer into a nano-material (optical filter) that is worth 20x the value of GOLD by weight. They make it 10x-100x more cost efficient, 70x more energy efficient, and 20x more compact than their competition.
  • Home Lending Pal (Orlando) – A geospatial data and analytics platform offering a CRA-as-a-Service technology for U.S. lenders. It streamlines home-buying assistance eligibility checks, providing real-time insights into consumer behaviors and pathways to homeownership. This white-labeled solution automates support for near-mortgage-ready applicants, minimizing declinations and enabling lenders to effortlessly scale affordable housing efforts at the loan officer level. Additionally, it enables lenders to cross-sell other financial products, ensuring a low-pressure consumer experience.
  • Kalogon (Melbourne) – Founded by a team of former SpaceX and NASA engineers with $2.5M in seed funding, Kalogon has found product-market fit and is on track to over $1M ARR in 2024 with its first two products in the wheelchair space, Orbiter and Booster. In April 2024, the company announced a Medicare-coded product, Orbiter Med.
  • Precision Periodic (Orlando) – Poised to revolutionize the US battery industry using PuraLith, their cutting-edge lithium refinery.  PuraLith leverages Precision Periodic’s state-of-the-art purification product and processes to produce the highest purity lithium available. PuraLith can purify lithium from ANY source, no matter the impurities or quality. The entire process takes less than one hour and costs under $0.82 per kilogram, compared with the traditional eight-plus hours and $2.00 – $5.00 per kilogram. Their process also eliminates the environmental impact of traditional methods.
  • Rahm Sensor Development, Inc.  (Orlando) – Aims to disrupt the patient monitoring market with their flagship product, the RahmSD Guardian. This device offers zero-touch monitoring of heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature from distances of up to 5-6 feet. What sets the RahmSD Guardian apart is its capability to wirelessly transmit these vital metrics alongside a live video feed of the patient, ensuring continuous and unobtrusive patient care.
  • Silicon Assurance (Gainesville) – A hardware security startup committed to pioneering EDA software technologies that excel in detecting, assessing, and mitigating security vulnerabilities in silicon chips designed by semiconductor and system companies like Intel, NVIDIA, and Google. The distinctive feature of these technologies lies in their capacity to recognize threats before the critical chip fabrication stage.

 

NORTH FLORIDA

  • National Energy USA (Tallahassee) – A minority-owned, veteran-owned engineering firm. As a ClimateTech company, they sit at the intersection of energy security and the Circular Economy. Addressing climate change and promoting sustainability are key global priorities and National Energy provides subject matter expertise in these critical areas.
  • Nhu Energy (Tallahassee) – Provides high-performing digital operating technology (OT) solutions that enable clean, flexible, resilient distributed electric power at scale. Their suite of best-in-class proprietary and patented digital control, optimization, and analytics technologies backed by our Operating Technology as a Service (OTaaS)™ performance-oriented support provide mission critical facilities such as hospitals 24×7 clean energy, 22% reduction in demand charges, 24×7 clean uninterrupted backup power for OR’s and ICU’s, and provide electric utilities instantaneous power continuity for distribution circuit customers from 100% clean energy on loss of grid.
  • OrthodontiCell, Inc. (Ponte Vedra Beach) – Has new technology together with braces or aligners, that will shorten the time to permanently move and stabilize the root of the tooth in 3 to 6 months compared to 18 to 24 months. They have completed a study involving 44 patients, which was submitted to the world’s largest orthodontic magazine. The results showed that 60% of patients achieved permanently straightened teeth in 3 months, and 100% achieved this in 6 months.

 

BEYOND FLORIDA

  • BarrelSense Inc. (Lafayette, Indiana) – A SaaS IoT platform that enables Distillers to take a data-driven approach to managing the critical product aging process as well as detect costly leaks. BarrelSense will be the first solution in market that allows distillers to integrate data, providing a complete “barrel-centric” view of their product/spirits.

 

Space Florida AeroTech Summit participating companies, by South, Central and North Florida regions:

 

SOUTH FLORIDA

  • eJet Aerospace (Miami Lakes) – Making electric aviation a reality providing safer, faster, and more cost-effective travel. With over 24 years of research and development, they have patented the first cold jet propulsion system technology known asSMAPAD®, which has been internationally recognized as the best technology patented from Latin America by The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

 

CENTRAL FLORIDA

  • ETA Space, LLC, Rockledge.  ETA Space, LLC, is a cryogenic fluid management company serving the New Space and Terrestrial Energy markets through servicing equipment. Their critical technology enables sustainable space exploration by developing propellant depots for orbital and lunar locations, with sizing for various missions.
  • Lonestar Data Holdings, LLC (St. Petersburg) – Global Backup, Global Refresh, and Global Restore. Their mission is to apply abundance thinking and exponential technologies to the endless possibilities of lunar data storage for the human race, and in so doing to the exploration of the Moon and beyond. Lonestar’s vision is fueled by remarkable investors led by Scout Ventures, 2 Future Holdings, Seldor Capital, and the Veteran Fund. Irongate Global Capital, Atypical Ventures, Kittyhawk Ventures, and Backswing Ventures. Lonestar is committed to a carbon negative future.
  • MySky Eco, Inc (Port Orange) – A startup aircraft manufacturer that is entirely self-funded.  They have flying prototype with over 400 flight hours and more than 1,000 test flights. They are looking to expand into production with three key product lines: a very efficient piston-powered aircraft, a modular drone platform, and an electrically powered flight training aircraft. Additionally, they plan to use blockchain technology for advanced analytics and supply chain volatility smoothing.
  • Improving Aviation (Tampa)  Specializes in delivering real-time, actionable insights to critical sectors where it’s most needed, empowering community heroes like military personnel and firefighters to maintain safety with greater efficiency. Their small but dedicated team enhances crucial operations with innovative, adaptive, and non-disruptive technological solutions.
  • Ocellott LLC (Daytona Beach) – An electronics engineering company that creates innovative solutions to electrify both the current and next generation of aircraft, the eVTOL “electric vertical takeoff and landing” in a safe manner.
  • Satellite Augmentation, LLC (Tampa) – Has developed an innovative system (US and International Patent No. 11,554885) that breathes new life into dormant satellites. By supplying propulsion, power and data transfer capabilities, SAM helps clients across industries recover assets and maximize profits.
  • Space Perspective (https://spaceperspective.com /) Titusville.  Space Perspective is leading Carbon Neutral Space Tourism, making travel to space accessible for the masses. They are a Luxury Travel Brand with a large percentage of sales coming through Trade & Channel partners in the space.VerdeGo Aero, Inc (https://verdegoaero.com/)  Daytona Beach.  VerdeGo Aero, Inc designs and assembles powerplants for the new, $10B electric aircraft market. Their aim is to help aircraft designers develop sustainable and high-performance aircraft by taking certified aircraft engines and applying their patented technology to hybridize them. This facilitates the creation of fleets of innovative aircraft designed and built to meet demand in commercial and military applications.X-lumin (www.x-lumin.com ) Merritt Island.  X-lumin is powering the widespread use of wireless communication services to enable others to digital, secure, and exchange data “from light.”  They provide turn-key systems for ground to space laser communication, land based optical wireless communication, and space situational awareness with advanced integration capabilities.

 

BEYOND FLORIDA

  • M Aerospace RTC INC. (Austin, Texas) – Combines high Engineering Expertise On 3D Printing with Industry. Through their Smart Factory Armdust 2.0 Additive Manufacturing Solution and their Patent of Laser Cladding Technology (Cold Spray) that allows you to 3D print, drill and assemble.

 

Presenting companies that will be participating in the Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition include:

  • Biominer, representing the University of Miami
  • Bite Belt, representing Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Cordelia Bio, representing the University of Florida
  • JustTap, representing Florida Southern College
  • Limitless Aeronautics, representing Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • NanoSense, representing Florida Atlantic University
  • Rush Power, representing the University of Tampa
  • Silent Rolling Robotics, representing the University of South Florida
  • Skye Meraki LLC, representing Stetson University
  • Unbound Disability Claims, representing the University of Central Florida

 

For more information and to register for the conference, visit: www.flventure.org/florida-early-stage-venture-conference.  

By Nikki Cabus

Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment

Read Time 3 Minutes

Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. announced that it has secured a $9.0 million Series B financing to advance the development of CYR-064 as a potential first-ever treatment for post-viral smell loss.

Hyposmia, including post-viral hyposmia, is an increasingly prevalent and serious chronic sensory condition for which there is no approved drug therapy and limited treatment options. Hyposmia causes significant impairment in quality of life for many sufferers. Moreover, in older individuals, hyposmia is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and mortality. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 8 million individuals in the US and Europe suffered from long-term post-viral hyposmia. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dramatically increased prevalence, with an estimated 40 million individuals in the US and Europe currently suffering from long-term post-viral hyposmia.

Delray Beach-based Cyrano Therapeutics is a private, venture-backed clinical stage regenerative medicine company. Since their foundation, the company has been working diligently to develop therapies for people struggling with the loss of smell (hyposmia) and taste.

Co-lead investors participating in the financing include the Florida Opportunity Fund managed by DeepWork Capital and existing investors Lumira Ventures and Remiges Ventures.

DeepWork Capital invests professionally managed committed venture capital in growth-oriented, early-stage companies in the technology and life science sectors. They partner with visionary entrepreneurs building disruptive companies and work closely with other investment groups taking a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies

Cyrano intends to use the proceeds from its Series B financing to advance FLAVOR, its Phase 2, double-blind, randomized clinical trial of CYR-064, an intranasal theophylline spray therapy to treat patients who have lost their sense of smell following recovery from a viral infection. The FLAVOR Phase 2 trial will be conducted at up to 15 sites in the US and the Series B financing is to fund the trial through data readout.

According to Cyrano’s website, “The Cyrano team has developed a unique, proprietary intranasal product to restore function in patients with a chronic loss of taste and smell. This is a condition affecting at least 14 million people in the US and a similar number in Europe, having a significant impact on safety, quality of life and well-being. Currently no marketed therapy exists and aside from the Cyrano product, none are in the pipeline. Cyrano has established the IP estate with the assistance of Wilson Sonsini. Key patents have been issued.”

“This Series B financing enables us to advance what we believe to be a first-of-its-kind treatment for patients suffering from long-term smell loss due to a viral infection,” said Rick Geoffrion, President and CEO of Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. “Smell loss correlates to functional loss of taste, which can both diminish quality of life and present significant health and safety risks, thus underscoring the urgency in advancing this important therapeutic. We also plan to conduct exploratory research for patients with Parkinson’s disease, 95 percent of whom often experience loss of smell and flavor as the first symptom of the disease.”

Jackson Streeter, MD, Venture Partner at DeepWork Capital, stated: “Cyrano Therapeutics represents an important investment for DeepWork and the Florida Opportunity Fund as we seek to identify and cultivate emerging biotechnology companies in Florida that combine executive and scientific expertise with therapeutic opportunities that offer the potential to address significant, unmet medical needs. We look forward to supporting the entire Cyrano team as the company advances CYR-064 through the FLAVOR Phase 2 trial.”

The number of patients experiencing long-term smell and flavor loss has increased 10-fold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 40 million patients in the US and Europe. Thirty percent of those suffering from smell loss will experience a hazardous event such as food poisoning or the inability to detect hazardous fumes. There is currently no FDA-approved drug therapy to treat smell loss from any cause.

$300K in winnings announced at Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Venture Conference
Florida Venture Forum announces a record number of companies to pitch at Florida Early Stage Conference
Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment