ECE News Story
Maryland Startups Resensys, FlexEl Receive $25K Grants from SAIC
Resensys LLC and FlexEl LLC, two startup companies spun out of technologies created at the University of Maryland, were awarded $25K grants from SAIC Inc. through the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, or Mtech, university officials announced Monday.
The funding, provided by SAIC for 2008, supports university ventures with promising technologies in alternative energy or threat detection. Funding recipients are required to be enrolled in or enter the Mtech VentureAccelerator Program, which systematically guides faculty and student technology entrepreneurs in starting companies based upon their inventions.
“Our goal at Mtech is to provide an on-campus support infrastructure enabling faculty and students to commercialize their inventions through entrepreneurship,” says Jim Chung, director of VentureAccelerator. “While our program provides valuable business expertise and guidance to university startups, there is still a critical funding gap at the seed stage that this important initiative by SAIC helps to fill.”
Resensys develops self-powered, wireless, distributed sensors for monitoring structures such as bridges, buildings, and pipelines. Its patent-pending technology, invented by Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Research Scientist, M.S. in Telecom Program Director, and alumnus Dr. Mehdi Kalantari, will detect strain, deformation, and cracks forming in structures, and provide early warnings when problems arise. Resensys’ sensors attach to existing structures. The company joined VentureAccelerator in July 2008.
Resensys also was recently awarded a $75,000 grant by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). Resensys was one of 10 high-tech startups to receive funding from TEDCO's technology transfer fund. The fund encourages partnerships among Maryland businesses, universities and federal laboratories to bring new technologies to market.
FlexEl develops millimeter-thick, high-density, rechargeable batteries made from thin films. Remotely rechargeable, the batteries gather energy from the environment, from sources such as vibrations and existing radio waves. They can even recharge by simply pointing a cell phone at them. FlexEl’s batteries are flexible, meaning they can conform to nearly any shape and act as part of an electronic device’s packaging. They attach to microchips, sensors, RFID chips, and small electronic components. The batteries are comprised entirely of environmentally friendly materials.
FlexEl’s patent-pending technologies were developed by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Martin Peckerar and Neil Goldsman, as well as research associate and alumnus Dr. Zeynep Dilli. FlexEl is accepted into the VentureAccelerator program pending final approval.
“Early involvement with companies like Resensys and FlexEl via this program provides SAIC with another avenue for exploring promising new technologies that benefit national security and serve citizens,” says Clement Chen, senior vice president and group director of strategic planning for SAIC. “We are excited about our continuing relationship with the University of Maryland and believe that support of the VentureAccelerator program is a good example of our cooperative activities.”
VentureAccelerator offers faculty and students hands-on assistance with a range of new business processes, including: sound business planning; understanding of markets or customers; proper alignment and timing of efforts; assistance in establishing management teams; and access to capital financing sources.
Story by Eric Schurr.
January 14, 2009