May 22, 2017

NFTE high school entrepreneurs headed to national contest


The student winner of the 2017 NFTE South Florida Entrepreneurship Challenge owned the stage during her presentation in front of hundreds of people. She executed her pitch so perfectly, she didn't even need the cute cameo role her little sister provided (though it didn't hurt.)

That was Coral Gables Senior High School student Ashley Bellinger (pictured above), who won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last week.  Hialeah Gardens Senior High School students Manny Mollinedo and Danny Martinez placed second. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000. 

Ashley  won $1,500 for her plan for Amber Ash, her t-shirt fashion company that celebrates diversity and individualism; her little sister modeled one of Ashley's designs.  Manny and Danny  created Fresh Fit and won $1,000.  These students presented their plan for a company which creates and distributes liners for fitness shaker bottles. Jacqueesha Jones from Miami Northwestern Senior High School who presented her plan for The Brownie Factory, an organization that sells brownies to raise college scholarship funds for low-income students, was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500. 

 “NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO.  “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today.  The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”            

The teens demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset, the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges.  Young people presented and defended their business plans before a prestigious panel of judges and an audience of key business and school leaders. All the finalists received mentoring before they competed, and the student winners will receive more mentoring before competing in New York this fall.

The judges for the South Florida regional competition were: Chris Caines, Miami Program Associate, Knight Foundation; Ralph Campbell, Managing Partner, 4D Associates; Ana Karina Felix, Senior Vice President, CCAR LATAM, Citi; Erik Pupo, Managing Director, Accenture; Dr. Stephanie Scott, Director of Research & Evaluation, United Way of Broward County, and Stephanie Sylvestre, Chief Programs Officer/Chief Information Officer, The Children’s Trust.

NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market.  Additional support for the South Florida Challenge was provided by Mastercard, along with Bank of America, Celebrity Cruises, EY, Royal Caribbean, and Santander. The South Florida regional competition was held on May 18 at Briza on the Bay in Miami.

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries.

Congratulations to the South Florida teen winners!


First place winner Amber Ash.


Second Place winners Fresh Fit.

Third Place winner: The Brownie Factory.


Florida Early Stage Capital Conference: And the winners are ...

SiteZeus  Tampa - First Place $75 000

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida announced the three top winners of the 10th Annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation prize, held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.  A total of 22 Florida-based companies from across the state and a variety of industry sectors were selected to present before an audience of investors, deal professionals and entrepreneurs. Ten startups from South Florida participated.

A panel of judges reviewed each selected company’s presentation and supporting materials. The top three cash prize winners were:

First Place $75,000 - SiteZeus, Tampa (, pictured above, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

Second Place $50,000 -  Auxadyne, Keystone Heights ( has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Third Place $25,000 - Admiral, Gainesville ( offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

The 22 presenting companies were selected from a statewide pool of more than 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $150,000.

“The Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference set a few important records in 2017: our largest-ever number of applicants, record overall attendance and the largest investor attendance in the event’s 10-year history,” said Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We take these milestones as very positive indicators of an increasingly robust and well-rounded early stage ecosystem. We congratulate our winning companies, and thank Space Florida for their strong support.”

In conjunction with the 2017 Early Stage Capital Conference, The Florida Venture Forum  also announced the three winners of the 7th Annual 2017 Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, also held on May 19. A total of 13 universities from a cross section of Florida brought their top students to compete for best in the state. The top three winners were:

 Winner: Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, Reamonn Soto - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fort Lauderdale

First Runner Up: Logentix LLC, Randy Lopez - Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland

Second Runner Up: Spared, Ryan Lockwood - University of Tampa



May 17, 2017

Have an idea to improve equity in education? Team up and take it from pitch to prototype at Startup Weekend EDU this weekend!

Swedu miami picture

Participants in last years StartUP Weekend Education event. This year's event is Friday-Sunday. Register at  


By Wifredo Fernandez

Want to know what it’s like to launch a company in a weekend? Do you have ideas for new educational tools, school models or learning spaces? Are you passionate about creating change in the education sector? Then join us this weekend, May 19-21!

Teach For America, StartUP FIU, FIU Office of Engagement and FIU School of Computing & Information Sciences have teamed up to host Startup Weekend EDU, a 54-hour event that takes you from pitch to prototype. We are looking for educators, technologists, designers, students and parents to develop new ideas that will impact the education system. The event is made possible by the generous support of Knight Foundation.

This year's theme will be "Creating solutions to improve equity in education." SWEDU Miami is a unique opportunity to experiment with all the necessary stakeholders in the South Florida education landscape. Join us to explore how innovation can disrupt inequities in education.

Friday night, individuals pitch their ideas, which are voted on and teams are formed. Saturday, expert mentors will be on site to coach teams through their prototyping and business modeling. Sunday, teams will pitch their solutions to an all-star panel of entrepreneurs, investors and education leaders. Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner during scheduled programming, free SWEDU swag, access to industry leaders and mentors, and a suite of free trials and discounts from our Google Network Partners.

The event is free for students and parents. To register, head to With the support of the Knight Foundation we can provide Assistance Grants via ticketing that is available on a first come - first serve basis. If additional financial assistance is needed to support registration cost, please email

Mentors and Coaches:

Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO - Kairos

Matt Mawhinney, Company Relations Manager - Launchcode

Juan Lopez Salaberry, Founder, MentorDay

Giselle Latorre, Community Outreach, StartUP FIU

Daniela Cadena, Social Innovation Manager, StartUP FIU

Willie Avendano, Co-Founder - Zero1 & Wynwood Maker Camp


Dr. Kenneth Furton, Provost of Florida International University

Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director, Department of Career and Technical Education - Miami Dade County Public Schools

Diana Santangelo, Director of Education, United Way of Miami-Dade

Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu 

May 08, 2017

2017 Business Plan Challenge: And the winners are ...

Challenge illustration

We are pleased to present the winners of the 19th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in education, hospitality, logistics, healthcare, tech, social impact and the sharing economy. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plans.

South Florida is often recognized as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial communities, and the 2017 winners and contestants represent the passion and diversity of the region’s emerging businesses. This year, a near-record of 234 entries competed in our three tracks of the Miami Herald Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center; more than 200 people attended our free Business Plan Bootcamp in March.

The three-page plans were judged by experts from our community — executives, investors, entrepreneurs and academics — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition. The Community Track attracted the most qualified entries in the contest: 109.

Nearly 100 high school student teams entered the Challenge this year. Their business plan entries were dominated by ideas for apps, most with a social-impact twist. For the FIU track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to five minutes to present their company, followed by time for Q&A and feedback.

A first for this contest: Two winners, one from the FIU Track and one from the High School Track, tackled the same big problem — restaurant food waste — with somewhat similar solutions. We suggest they team up!

And the winners are ...

Community Track: Cargo42, a B2B sharing-economy solution that matches shippers in need with local trucking companies with cargo space to fill, won the Community Track. Apollonix, an online platform for marketing and ordering and oral prosthetics, came in second. Third was Caribu, an app that marries video-calling and e-books to provide an interactive experience when family members are far apart.

FIU Track: Nuvola, creator of guest management software that helps hotels monitor and respond to hotel and guest needs, won the FIU Track. MunchSquad, a mobile app that enables restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets to reduce surplus food by selling it to hungry college students, was second. Third went to Use Your Words, an app used by parents to teach language and communication to their pre-verbal and nonverbal children on the autism spectrum.

High School Track: Smart Straws, a plan to offer a straw that detects the most common rape drugs when placed in drinks, won the track. Micki’s, an app that would enable restaurants to advertise real-time flash sales on specific meals when business has been slow, was second. VetNet, an app that would help veterans combat issues including unemployment and unavailability of resources, won third. An honorable mention went out to LocatED, a community emergency response app.

The weeklong People’s Pick competition, which attracted 12,130 votes, heated up on social media. In the end, SettleiTsoft, a web-based and mobile platform that offers 24/7 assistance to debtors and creditors to streamline debt negotiation, won the FIU Track with 2,812 votes and the most elaborate consumer-focused social media campaign, in two languages and spanning the Americas. Use Your Words came in second with 1,225 votes, and MunchSquad came in third in the FIU race.

In the Community Track’s People’s Pick competition, Cargo42 came in first with 1,820 votes, Caribu was on its tail with 1,682, and School Climate Solutions, customized on-demand content for educators, parents and students that helps improve school environments, came in third.

And, drumroll please ... The Challenge Champion, our overall winner, was Cargo42 because of the high judges’ scores and the strong People’s Pick showing.

What separated today’s featured winners from the pack? The written business plans scored well in most of the key areas, including business model, marketing strategy, financials, management team, value proposition and market opportunity. Many of the teams have sought mentorship and support from community entrepreneurship organizations — and it showed.

Some of today’s winners are first-timers or hoping to turn a side hustle into a full-time business; some are serial entrepreneurs or professionals with decades of industry experience. Yet they all are in the early stages of their startups. We will be following their progress!

Find profiles of the 2017 Challenge winners through the links below or on

Challenge Champion: Trucking meets tech in Cargo42’s winning strategy

FIU Track Winner: Software created by hoteliers for hoteliers is primed to scale

High School Track Winner: A simple straw to help combat a widespread rape problem? ‘Brilliant’

This startup wants to help you keep your toothy smile

Far away, yet so near: App lets kids, distant loved ones read together

Excess restaurant food + hungry college students = winning social venture idea

Startup developing a useful, affordable tool to help nonverbal children

Attacking consumer debt with a next-generation tech solution

Flash sales for foodies can help restaurants tackle food waste

Helping and connecting U.S. veterans is mission of VetNet

Emergency response app has real-time potential to save lives

Challenge finalists represents a range of industries

Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge judges

Entrepreneur bootcamp basics: Focus your vision, build a great team, listen to your customers


May 06, 2017

Zuke Music was $10K winner at Babson WIN Lab finale event


Babson College’s Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab celebrated its inaugural cohort’s completion of the eight-month Miami program on April 25, with over 250 guests at The Jewel Box at the National YoungArts Foundation headquarters. The WIN Lab® expanded into Miami in 2016 with the support of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and corporate sponsors including Akerman LLP.

WIN Lab Miami’s Director Carolina Pina led the evening’s progression stating, “We are determined to impact the existing growth gap in the city; Miami ranks No. 2 in entrepreneurial activity but No. 38 in growth. By having more scalable businesses run and led by women, we’re hoping investors will be more willing to invest in them so we can also contribute to narrowing the funding gap.”

Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation Miami Program Director, added, “We’re trying to build a community that’s unlike any other. Innovation is built on a diversity of ideas and people.”

Haggman was one of three representatives judging WIN Lab Miami’s grand prize pitch session, with $17,500 in prizes sponsored by FedEx. For the pitch, three cohort companies who exceptionally leveraged the venture accelerator’s resources were given five minutes each to share their business vision in hopes of winning the grand prize.

Arielle Cohen’s Zuke Music—a digital networking platform for music industry professionals—took home the evening’s top honor of $10,000. (pictured above)

Kelly Pierce’s PIERCE Plan—a NCAA standards tracking software program—landed second place and $5,000.

Jessica Do’s Palmpress Coffee—a personal craft coffee maker for hot coffee and cold brew—earned third place and $2,500.

The accelerator is currently accepting applications for its second cohort, which has been extended until May 19. WIN LAB Miami applications can be found at

- submitted by WIN LAB MIaimi

May 03, 2017

StartUP FIU Pitch Day for cohort 2 of Empower accelerator is May 9

Supfiucohort2 (20)


StartUP FIU, the university-wide initiative in innovation and entrepreneurship at Florida International University (FIU), announced today the companies to pitch at their Spring Pitch Day on May 9.

The pitch event connects venture capitalist and angel investors with a group of the most disruptive companies in South Florida. The event features FIU students, faculty/staff, alumni and members of the Miami community whose companies span innovation in consumer products, medical devices, social networks and cloud computing. This group represents the second cohort of the 14-week StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator program.

“I am truly inspired by the discoveries and innovations that are coming through StartUP FIU's Empower Accelerator and especially by the startups that will take to the stage on May 9,” said Emily Gresham, Cofounder of StartUP FIU and an Assistant Vice President of the University. “One of the missions of StartUP FIU is to commercialize the intellectual property developed here in South Florida and each cohort brings us closer to that objective.”

The 14 companies that will pitch at Graham Center Ballroom on May 9 include:

·       Benbo: The most interactive, simple and easy to use business networking app that will help you create, customize, exchange and scan business cards.

·       Boatrax: Boatrax facilitates the logging experience for boat owners with a mobile app that allows them to organize their logs and share them with local service providers.

·       Cargo42: Cargo42 is a marketplace for trucking committed to reducing idle time and capacity.

·       Clutch Couture Bags: Clutch Couture Bags is a designer handbag rental service that is changing the way fashion-lovers experience luxury.

·       Extreme Weather: A national network of weather education-entertainment-resilience centers. Visitors will experience dangerous weather through immersive, experiential technologies.

·       Give Wink: First ever subscription box service for grandparents, delivering an assortment of age appropriate essentials and goodies on a bi-monthly basis.  

·       Master Honey: We empower low-income women to start their own micro beekeeping business and sell us the urban honey they produce for commercialization.

·       MmMaps: Public Transportation for Tourism

·       NIROS: NIROS Technology Inc. is developing a safe hand-held optical scanner to help wound care specialist image under the skin, to improve prognosis in wounds healing process

·       Renu Shops: Redesigning retail, Removing blight, and Empowering communities with reused shipping containers.

·       SkillCourt: SkillCourt application helps you create, perform and compare through our wireless LED Target pads.  

·       StealthSimulation: Bridging the gap between healthcare education and technology by engineering solutions for clinical simulation.

·       Viera Academy: A free Test-Preparation Playground, mentored by Guinness record holders committed to helping students play, learn and train like Champions do.

·       Wrocket: Teaching organizations recruit Millennials in their language! Candidates and recruiters video, swipe and chat themselves to the perfect match

 Click here to reserve your tickets for Pitch Day. For ongoing coverage of StartUP FIU, follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram or view curated content via the hashtag #StartUPFIU.

Applications for StartUP FIU’s Cohort 3  are currently open. You can apply at to be a part of the Empower Accelerator.

StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative, has two programs currently in operation. StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator is a formal14-week program and StartUP FIU FOOD is a year-round food incubator. A third program, StartUP FIU West Kendall, an incubator focusing on software and hardware technology, will open later in 2017.

- Submitted by StarUP FIU

11 entrepreneurs from South Florida are Florida finalists for EY Entrepreneur of the Year

EY recently announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Florida program, including eleven South Florida entrepreneurs. The prestigious awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. The business leaders were selected by a panel of independent judges. The eleven finalists from South Florida are:

·       Christopher James Chen, MD – ChenMed, Miami Gardens

·       Adriana Cisneros – Cisneros Interactive, Coral Gables

·       Jorge Gonzalez – City National Bank, Miami

·       Edie Rodriguez – Crystal, Miami

·       Michael Murphy – HealthChannels, Fort Lauderdale

·       Craig M. Nash – ILG, Inc., Miami

·       Pete Pizarro – Ilumno, Miami

·       Michael Neal – KAST Construction Company, West Palm Beach

·       Ben Fleischer – Pyure Brand, LLC, Naples

·       Brett Beveridge – The Revenue Optimization Companies, Coral Gables

·       Brett Cramer & Jennifer Lynne Cramer – The Spice Lab, Pompano Beach

Award recipients will be announced at a black-tie awards gala on June 23, 2017, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.

Submitted by EY

10 South Florida startups selected to present at Florida Early Stage Capital Conference

The Florida Venture Forum has selected 22 Florida-based or operating companies to present at its 10th annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference, and nearly half are from South Florida.

“We continue to receive applications from high quality early stage companies from all regions in Florida and we received a record number of applications again this year,” said Jennifer Dunham, partner at Arsenal Venture Partners, chair of the conference selection committee and a board member of the Florida Venture Forum. The conference is being held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.

In addition to company presentations and other programming, the conference award a total of $150,000 in cash awards presented to the first, second and third place winning companies, provided by Space Florida.

Presenters were selected from a pool of over 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and investors. Selected companies will present to an audience of investors, other deal professionals and entrepreneurs.

The presenting companies from South Florida will be:  

Boatyard, Fort Lauderdale (, is the world's first on-demand marketplace for recreational boating. Their app provides boat owners with the ability to order fuel, boat washing, service and captains directly to their boat with a few clicks on their mobile device.

Caribu, Miami (, is an education platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not together. The result is an engaging experience in a carefully designed, curated, and secure platform.

Honorlock, Boca Raton (, the company’s on-demand proctoring solution combines classic proctoring methods with a proprietary new method of multi-device detection. 

Kugadi, Miami (, allows security companies to move into the 22st century by enabling them with a mobile app and web based portal that makes their employees both more efficient and more accountable.

Neuro Pharmalogics, Boca Raton, is a Biopharmaceutical company developing/commercializing innovative therapies for people with rare (orphan) neurological diseases treatable by PKG signaling modification such as: Hemiplegic Migraine, Orphan Epileptic conditions, Neural Trauma (TBI, Spinal shock), and other Ischemic conditions.

Papa, Hollywood (,  is a home health technology platform that allows members to connect to home health services in their community. They are working to simplify healthcare. Though the Papa Platform, they make it easy for members to access and manage health care services for their family members.

Rotation Manager, Miami (, is an online platform for hospitals, schools, and nurses to manage clinical rotation scheduling and compliance. Software as a Service.

Symplast, Plantation (, is the first practice management platform that revolutionizes patient engagement from any smartphone. A complete eHealth solution for aesthetic practices, Symplast increases communication between patients, providers and staff. Fully functional on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, Symplast provides doctors the freedom to focus on what matters most: their patients.

Tender Armor, Fort Lauderdale (, CVV+ is a real-time, two-factor fraud prevention solution that authenticates cardholders conducting Card-Not-Present (CNP) transactions including e-commerce and phone transactions. CVV+ validates the authorized cardholder conducting the transaction, not just the payment card.

Whoop Wireless, Boca Raton (, their patented technology is used by major academic, hospitality, and corporate institutions to provide in-building cellular coverage at less than half the cost of a distributed antenna system (DAS).

The other companies are:

Admiral, Gainesville (, offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

Feathr, Gainesville (, is a digital marketing SaaS company focused on the vertical of live events, such as trade shows and music festivals.

Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (, has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Droplit, Melbourne (, provides software development tools for hardware companies in the Internet of Things. With full-stack cloud infrastructure and rich developer tools, Droplit enables rapid development of IoT products, allowing product teams to accomplish in weeks what currently takes years.

RedTeam Software, Orlando (, is a true cloud application built and optimized for construction by people that know the business. From collaboration through accountability, RedTeam is the most comprehensive project management and accounting solution for commercial construction.

GO PUCK, Sarasota (, GO PUCK’s founders invented the lithium starting battery, and patented the Supercharger technology used by Tesla Motors. Their work is found in every IndyCar, championship NASCAR & Formula 1 vehicles and recharge millions of Electric powered miles. They now have patented claims for the 1st Wearable Power device, with all the speed, safety and reliability trusted around the World.

Prime Medical, Largo (, is revolutionizing infection prevention in healthcare and other verticals with its complete line of SAF-T™ products and OEM capability. Using a patented fabric technology, SAF-T apparel and textiles retain a lasting shield of chlorine molecules after each laundering in EPA-registered bleach. Simple, superior and sophisticated, the chlorine-activated textiles are powered to continuously kill the colonization of harmful bacteria and viruses during use/wear, are completely safe, and feature next-gen color technology that will not fade in bleach.

QURE4U, Bradenton (, the platform answers the need for health professionals to increase patient engagement. The interactive tools, patient monitoring and alerts enable providers and their staff members to more efficiently interact with patients, identify patients at risk, give better treatment, and reduce visits to the ER and hospital admissions as well as gaps-in-care.

SiteZeus, Tampa (, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

TripShock, Santa Rosa Beach (, is both B2B and B2C. For the B2B model, they provide booking solutions for activity and tour suppliers. They generate bookings through their distribution outlets and collect a commission for each confirmed sale.

NeuroInitiative, Jacksonville (, 100% of attempts to stop or slow progression of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases have failed. They can change that, and in the process bring relief to 57 million patients worldwide, introduce a new way to develop effective drugs, and capture sizable portions of both the $37 billion annual pharma R&D market.

Ardusat, Salt Lake City, UT (,  creates hands-on and engaging STEM experiences on earth and in space. Ardusat’s open STEM platform provides curriculum resources mapped to national and state standards, classroom management tools for teachers, and step by step guides for students to build experiments. Ardusat has operations in Florida.

 - Submitted by Florida Venture Forum


April 28, 2017

More contest news: FAU Wave Competitions announces winners

Florida Atlantic University’s Division of Research has announced the winners of the 2017 FAU Wave Competition, an undergraduate and entrepreneurial research contest. Participants received $500 this past fall to develop new ideas to address societal problems, and worked throughout two semesters to develop their proposed projects.

Vithulan Suthakaran, a FAU High School student who is dual-enrolled in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, took home $1500 in prize money for his SEA Skimmer project, which won first place. Suthakaran developed an inexpensive autonomous oil skimmer to decontaminate oil from large bodies of water to protect aquatic species. The SEA Skimmer is cost effective, efficient, sustainable and collects oil nearly three times faster than current devices on the market.

“I’ve always had a passion for marine life and love to visit marine life centers,” he said. “I started noticing more marine mammals showing up at these centers because of oil pollution and I wanted to find a way to help out.”

Alexis Base, a FAU High student studying ocean engineering at FAU, tied for second place with electrical engineering undergraduate Ben Coleman, earning them $1000 for their projects. Base developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) with an onboard camera image recognition system to locate lionfish, an invasive fish species in the Atlantic Ocean. Coleman’s Transient-Image Density Evaluation System (TIDES) improves smartphone sensing technology by deleting additive noise and reducing the effect of multiplicative noise.

“The FAU Wave competition teaches students how to get published in journals, launch a start-up, file for a patent and connect with other experts in their fields,” said Dan Flynn, Ph.D., vice president for research. “It primes them for future opportunities in entrepreneurship and technology start-ups, like FAU Tech Runway or a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.”

FAU High student Hannah Herbst, also studying biology at FAU, tied for third place with Pedro Flores, an undergraduate majoring in physics. Herbst developed an inexpensive device that quickly identifies the presence of airborne chemicals and issues a warning or evacuation notice. Flores created an artificial intelligence project that uses math algorithms to create music.

Other projects included a drone that can detect air pollution, filters that reverse the effect of sea coral diseases, an African-inspired clothing company and a portrait project focused on better understanding the LGBTQ population.

            For more information on the FAU Wave competition, visit

- Submitted by FAU 

April 27, 2017

FAU Business Plan Competition: And the winners are ...


Pictured left to right are: FAU College of Business Dean Daniel Gropper, Barbara Ruiz, Rodrigo Gayoso, Christopher Waddington, Regynald Augustin, Kendrick Dubuisson, Kristopher Stewart, William Hahn, Brandon Jadotte, Kurtis Rodriques, Quintin Warren.


A team of four engineering students took home the top prize at this year’s Florida Atlantic University Business Plan Competition with a system that helps prevent the theft of printed classified or proprietary documents. 

Their company is Protection Against Physical Element Removal or PAPER for short. Founding members Alyssa Harris, Kris Stewart, Quintin Warren, and Wesley Klemas formed PAPER earlier this year in their senior engineering design class. 

The idea started when Harris, who previously worked as an intern in the defense industry, read news articles detailing one of the issues the defense community grapples with – how to prevent people walking out with pages containing proprietary or classified information. 

“She came up with the initial idea of trying to track the pages, and from there all of us together developed the idea of printing RFIDs onto the page,” Warren explained. 

RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags containing electronically stored information, which are attached to objects. PAPER utilizes conductive nanoparticle ink to tag classified documents, allowing its system to detect if documents are being removed from the premises. 

Andrew Duffell, president and CEO of the Research Park at FAU and one of the judges for the competition, said the fact that government would be a good customer for PAPER’s services and the company could get funding through various grant mechanisms gives them a good opportunity to ramp up their business to become revenue-positive. 

“They showed us a huge market that really has never been addressed in a comprehensive way,” he said. “Their technology and their solution and the way prepared their plan and they pulled out the answers very carefully was impressive. It was just a very interesting concept, well thought out and well presented.”

While classified information is well-secured and encrypted in a cyber environment, government and large enterprise businesses haven’t had a successful solution to securing their printed classified documents. This has led to these sensitive materials being leaked online. The PAPER team said this can be remedied using their system, which allows organizations to know when printed, classified material is removed before it even leaves the premises, ensuring it doesn’t get leaked.

The PAPER team won $10,000 for taking first place in the competition, along with an additional $1,000 for being named Best Interdisciplinary Team.

Ripple, a creative micro-influencer and marketing agency that empowers local celebrities by offering them the ability to rent their social media real estate, was awarded $5,000 for second place.

Idle Automation, which uses a mobile app to provide self-driving shuttles for university campuses, retirement communities and resorts where short-distance travel is cumbersome or inaccessible, took third place and $2,500.

Fit Families of South Florida won the People's Choice award and $1,000.

The students on the PAPER team said they received support from faculty in the College of Engineering & Computer Science, as well as the College of Business, which hosted the competition in conjunction with the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship. The competition took them out of their comfort zone as engineers, but they got the result they wanted.

“Coming up with the actual business plan was probably the most difficult part of the competition because it was out of our discipline,” Stewart said. “The part I enjoyed the most was competing and getting to talk about the business aspect of it versus the technical side of the project.”

 - Submitted by Florida Atlantic University