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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

Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023

Read Time 5 Minutes

The Florida Venture Forum and co-host, Space Florida, hosted the 2023 Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum awarding over $200,000 in cash and VC investment.

The event is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early and mid-stage tech companies bringing together aerospace and tech enthusiasts and investors. The closing reception for the Aerospace Innovation awards was held on June 8th at the newly expanded Groundswell Startup Incubator in Melbourne, Florida. The reception featured speakers, panel discussion, and pitches from the finalists.

The panel discussion featured area tech resources and successfully funded entrepreneurs from companies such as Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Groundswell Startups, Sensatek Propulsion Technology, Inc. and Helicon. It was moderated by Danielle Mousseau, Manager of Economic Development at 35 Mules, an innovation hub started by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. FPL was the Title Sponsor of the evening.

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 more than 2000 companies have presented at Forum events and have gone on to raise upwards of $16B in equity capital, producing billions more in economic value to Florida. The Forum’s 250+ members represent 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 finalists were chosen from a pool of over sixty applicants. The panel of investors reviewed each company’s presentation along with additional supporting materials giving insight into the company’s growth potential. Selected presenting companies were innovative and have a focus in aerospace and/or emerging technologies. This year’s event was one of the most competitive to date.

“The selection of companies from the long list of qualified applicants was made by a committed group of early stage investors. A special thanks to the selection committee for their hours of work and an equal thanks to the companies that provided information and presentations, and made this selection process the most competitive to date,” said Ben Patz, Managing Partner of DeepWork Capital.

“We were incredibly impressed by all the presenting companies and are excited about the opportunities for continued investment in this space,” said, Benjamin Patz, managing partner, DeepWork Capital. “Investing in cutting-edge sectors that stem from the transformative power of emerging and aerospace technology is a strategic move and critical to driving success.”

The “Final Four” winning companies are listed below:

GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($40,000) | Kind Designs

Miami Beach headquartered, Kind Designs (www.kinddesigns.com), is addressing the rising sea-level challenge by 3D Printing structural seawalls that both protect coastal communities and function as artificial reefs, sequester CO2 and have built-in sensors to track essential water quality data. The Living Seawalls are exponentially cheaper and faster to produce and permit than any conventional seawall products on the market.

It’s estimated that by the year 2100, Miami will be completely submerged by water. Kind Designs founder, Anya Freeman, a Ukraine native, lived in Israel before coming to Miami to study law. The love of technology drew her to 3D printing. Originally interested in building 3D-printed homes, Any changed her focus towards seawalls once she learned about the ability to mitigate the effect of climate change and rising sea levels.

In addition to the cash prizes awarded, DeepWork Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Orlando, is announced they will invest $100,000 in Kind Designs.

1ST RUNNER UP ($30,000) | Zulu Pods, Ft. Lauderdale, FL., www.zulupods.com, is an aerospace and defense company who design and manufacture decentralized fluid delivery systems. The company is focused on unitizing part counts on components such as jet engines and/or geartrains, thereby reducing cost, reducing weight and increasing performance. With their patented pod technology, they can drastically reduce part counts for expendable jet engines (think of engines that power drones or missiles) or back-up emergency lubrication systems (think of helicopters or single engine fighter jet engines).

2ND RUNNER UP ($20,000) | Ainthoven, Cocoa Beach, FL., www.whoweplayfor.org, the company is bringing life-saving electrocardiogram (“ECG”) heart screenings to pediatrics and young adults in the United States and beyond.

3RD RUNNER UP ($10,000)Gigantor Technologies, Inc., Melbourne Beach, FL., www.gigantor.com/, provides an AI accelerator that can speed up neural network models to speeds nVidia, Tesla, that the company says – others cannot touch. If the process latency is reduced to a fraction of other solutions it can enable Deep and Convolutional neural networks (computer vision, radar, lidar) to work with any frame size, HD, 4K and above with no data loss, it also reduces power by over 90%.

Event co-host, Space Florida, was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed.

“This year’s applicants exhibited exceptional innovation and leadership, and we believe they are poised to make an impact on the aerospace industry in today’s business climate,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “To date, capital accelerator programs supported by Space Florida have attracted more than $600 million in funding and investments for companies. We are proud be the financial propellant that helps new ideas take off.”

“Congratulations to Kind Designs, Zulu Pods, Ainthoven, and Gigantor Technologies from this year’s forum,” said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “Through our work and collaborations, we continue to be on the forefront of driving innovation and progress with early-stage companies across various industries.”

To see the images of all winning companies, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

Space Florida and Florida Venture Forum Award $100,000 to Early Stage Companies

Read Time 4 Minutes

Space Florida and the Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, are pleased to announce the award winners at the 2022 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference in Tampa will receive a total of $100,000. The Early Stage Capital Conference is “where capital and innovation meet!”

This event marks the 15th year the Florida Venture Forum has hosted the Florida Early Stage Capital Conference. The 19 presenting companies including 8 from southeast Florida were selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capital investors. The companies eligible to win originated from one of several industries including aerospace, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and others.

A total of 19 companies presented this year and 3 of the 5 winners were from South Florida!

Grand Prize Winner ($40,000) – Miami (Miami-Dade County)

EVQLV leverages advances in computation to revolutionize the design and development of therapeutic antibodies. We work with partners at the discovery stage to accelerate the speed of antibody discovery. For those collaborators who have preclinical, clinical, or commercial assets, we support the optimization of antibody candidates, develop assets that expand IP protection, and design next generation and innovative immunotherapies. All of our work is performed at accelerated speeds and scale only feasible by leveraging computational tools that learn from massive and diverse datasets.

 

2nd Place Winner ($30,000) –  Daytona Beach (Volusia County)

Novineer, Inc. is a design hub where novel engineering design meets 3D printing. The company plans to bring a 3D printing design and simulation software to market that will streamline the process of designing, modeling and fabricating parts

 

 

 

3rd Place Winner ($20,000) – Juno Beach (Palm Beach County)

Revterra Corporation is developing a modular kinetic battery designed to mitigate demand charges and infrastructure upgrade requirements in applications such as high-power electric vehicle charging and larger grid-scale applications. They are a 35 Mules (powered by FPL) innovation hub startup.

 

 

Additionally, OverTheShoulder and Pet HealthCare Innovations were the recipients of the 13th annual 2022 Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition, attracting the “best of the best” in collegiate competitors from 11 of Florida’s leading innovation-focused colleges and universities.  They were an FAU Tech Runway startup. They will receive $5,000.

“This year’s applicants exemplify the ingenuity and forward-thinking that is essential to success in the today’s business climate. The ingenuity of this year’s winners is a testament to the innovative and entrepreneurial culture we have fostered here in Florida,” said Space Florida president and CEO Frank DiBello. “Together with the Florida Venture Forum we are proud to support these businesses as they continue to push boundaries and bring new technologies and solutions to market.”

Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $100,000. The goal of the Early Stage Capital Conference is to provide Florida entrepreneurs and innovators an opportunity to engage with potential investors. Space Florida supported capital accelerators have attracted more than $640 million in funding and investments for the participating companies. Seven colleges and universities were chosen to participate in this year’s Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition.

Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. 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.

“Congratulations to EVQLV, Novineer, Inc., Revterra Corporation and to all the winners and participants at the 2022 Early Stage Capital Conference,” said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We are extremely grateful to our partners at Space Florida for their support and commitment to the Forum, and to Florida’s innovation ecosystem. Cash awards like this one, plus the venture capital Forum members invest in startups, are like rocket fuel for the companies powering Florida’s future.”

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 Capital Conference, and industry-focused events including aerospace and healthcare.

For more info on the Florida Early Stage Capital Conference, visit flventure.org/2022-early-stage-capital-conference/

$300K in winnings announced at Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Venture Conference
Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023
Space Florida and Florida Venture Forum Award $100,000 to Early Stage Companies