Texas Tech University

Innovation Hub Announces Winners of Spark Conference Competitions

Glenys Young

April 28, 2017

Innovation Hub

Startups earned funding by pitching their ideas to industry experts and investors.

The Texas Tech University Innovation Hub at Research Park concluded its two-day Spark Conference today (April 28) by announcing the winners of its iLaunch Competition, Global Laboratory for Energy Asset Management and Manufacturing (GLEAMM) Innovation Poster Showcase and GLEAMM Spark Fund Presentations.

Kimberly Gramm
Kimberly Gramm

"These exciting two days were filled with inspiring researchers and entrepreneurs presenting relevant solutions to big problems," said Kimberly Gramm, senior managing director of the Innovation Hub at Research Park. "Announcing the winners makes it a proud day to be a Red Raider."

The Spark Conference was announced in January. Since that time, teams have been forming and preparing for this opportunity to present their ideas or business plans to investors, mentors and industry professionals. By doing so, they had a chance to earn part of the $200,000 in funding that was available to teams during the conference.

In the iLaunch Competition, startups pitched their businesses to potential investors in Texas Tech's version of the TV show "Shark Tank."

The $10,000 first place winner was C-Safe, which developed a weight detection pad that alerts parents or guardians if they leave the vicinity while their child is in a car seat. Team members are Gage Dutkin, John Shearer, Sean Tully and Lorenzo Gamboa. 

"This weekend has been absolutely surreal," Dutkin said. "None of this would have happened without the community involvement helping us. We could not be more proud of our C-Safe team; we have put in so much work! My team exceeded all expectations, and we are super excited for the future."

In the GLEAMM Innovation Poster Showcase, students and faculty designed posters that displayed innovative technology concepts in cyber-physical security, systems analysis, next-generation renewable energy, energy conservation systems and energy economics.

The $2,000 first place winner was the poster titled, "Surface Coating for Flow Separation Control and Energy Efficiency Industry/Commercialization." Team members are Burak Aksak, Luciano Castillo and Humberto Bocanegra Evans.

"I think this was a wonderful experience," Aksak said. "As researchers, we are not necessarily used to taking our technologies outside of the lab, so this exposure and ability to showcase our work to people is wonderful."

During the GLEAMM Spark Fund Presentations, students and faculty pitched their work for additional funding. The Spark Fund is a $1 million proof-of-concept grant program designed to accelerate the commercialization of energy technologies.

The top-funded team, AC SuperCap, was awarded $56,467. AC Supercap is an ultrafast supercapacitor that can respond at kilohertz frequencies in replacing the bulky and low-efficient electrolytic capacitors for ripple current filtering. Team members are Nazifah Islam, Md Nadim Ferdous Hoque and Zhaoyang Fan.

"This was our first time participating in the conference," Hoque said. "We did not know about it before, and everything was really nice. It was really cool that we won and we are really excited about it. We enjoyed meeting our goals and are excited about setting new ones!"

All winners from the Spark Conference now move forward as semi-finalists for the Innovation Hub's 12-week Accelerator program where they will have access to a dedicated team of trained mentors, one year of collaborative workspace and a $25,000 grant to fund their startup.

The Innovation Hub at Research Park and its partners, including, the Texas Tech Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, the Texas Tech Rawls College of Business, the Texas Tech Office of the Chancellor, Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, Office of Research Commercialization, Dickenson Wright, the Texas Tech Office of the President and Chalker Flores, LLP, are supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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