An innovative approach to recycling consumer electronics to reclaim the essential elements inside of them is a step closer to reality after startup company REEcycle was awarded $50,000 in funding as the top company at the 2016 Texas A&M New Ventures Competition (TNVC) at Texas A&M University.
The Houston-based based company headed by Co-founder and CEO Casey McNeil was named first-place winner of the competition. The competition, which awarded a total of $150,000 in cash prizes this year, promotes the commercialization of emerging technology by recognizing companies with high growth potential. It was hosted by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).
REEcycle reclaims materials known as rare earth elements from recycled electronics. REEcycle primarily targets neodymium and dysprosium, two rare earth elements essential to the production of consumer electronics, clean energy technologies and national defense systems.
“This win for us really means the advancement of a lot of different technologies that we are working on,” McNeil said. “There are some really interesting additions that we would like to make to our technology in the way of purifying our materials a little bit further and also expanding on the conversion of our material alloys – so really just advancing some of the research we are working on, this funding is absolutely critical towards furthering.”
REEcycle is the second company to earn top honors at TNVC, which began in 2015 and was won by Noninvasix, a Galveston-based company developing medical technology that enables monitoring of a baby’s brain oxygen levels during labor and delivery.
"The Texas A&M New Ventures Competition helps elevate real companies with credible prospects, and win or lose, the benefits of competing in such events is invaluable," said Graham Randall, CEO of Noninvasix. “Since participating, we've been able to further develop our prototype, make inroads with high-level investors and clarify our regulatory path with the FDA.”
In addition to REEcycle, five other companies were recognized as finalists and received prize money. TriFusion Devices earned second-place honors and received $35,000 for its 3-D printing technology aimed at revolutionizing the health care and sports equipment industries. Voyager Biomedical Corp. ranked third and received $25,000 for its development of better vascular access technologies for use in dialysis and other treatments requiring long-term blood access. Fourth-place honors and $15,000 in prize money were awarded to NuPark, Inc. for its technology to create a virtual parking permit. Siva Therapeutics Inc., a company developing technology for targeting therapeutic heat to treat melanoma, was awarded fifth place and $10,000. CartoFusion Technologies, Inc., ranked sixth and was awarded $5,000 for its mapping and planning tool for use by public safety and emergency management organizations.
As part of the TNVC elevator pitch competition, which gave eight companies the opportunity to present their technologies in the format of a one-minute pitch, ECM Technologies took top honors, winning $5,000 for its unique platform technology that enables non-animal bacterial collagens for medical devices. Acoustic Shield earned second place and $3,000 for its one-minute pitch of an acoustic gunshot detection sensor. Rounding out the honorees, Astrapi Corp. ranked third and received $2,000 for its proprietary spiral modulation technology.
“It is exciting for us to see this competition continue to grow and attract such an amazing group of entrepreneurs,” said Dimitris Lagoudas, deputy director of TEES. “It’s the work of innovators and thought leaders like the ones who took part in this competition that will make it into the marketplace and into the hands of the public.”
The daylong competition, which was open to all Texas-based companies seeking to bring new or enhanced technology to the marketplace, required 16 companies in the pre-seed/seed, start-up or early growth stages to pitch their ideas to judges that included angels and venture capitalists, experienced entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, legal professionals, patent experts and banking/investment professionals. The esteemed group of companies was previously selected from a larger pool of competition applicants prior to the event. In the days leading to the competition, participants received personal coaching and access to mentor strategists as they developed their competition business plans and presentation pitches.
“Mays Business School takes very seriously its sustained commitment to support entrepreneurial excellence fueling innovation and collaboration across local, state, national and global economies,” said Blake Petty, director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. “In that respect, we are proud to partner in and support the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, the distinction this program bestows on its participants, and its celebration of entrepreneurial success for societal benefit.”
Funding for TNVC was made possible by TEES, Texas A&M Division of Research, Mays Business School, Texas A&M Health Science Center, The Texas A&M University System and Spirit of Texas Bank. In kind support was provided by the Aggie Angel Network, the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Texas A&M Technology Commercialization.
“We are proud to support the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, an important asset for building the startup ecosystem at Texas A&M, particularly in Bryan-College Station,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim senior vice president and chief operating officer, Texas A&M Health Science Center and interim dean, College of Medicine. “This event is helping develop a culture of entrepreneurship and fills the gap that exists locally in providing companies with early-stage, non-dilutive funding, ensuring the most promising ideas end up in the marketplace.”
For more information on the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, including a full list of the day’s competitors, visit www.texasnvc.org.
Contact: Duncan Maitland, TEES Assistant Agency Director for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, at 979.458.3471 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ryan Garcia at 979.847.5833 or via email: email@example.com.