Four startups named semi-finalists for Cade Museum Prize for Innovation

By Ron Wayne

The Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention has narrowed the 16 finalists for the 7th Annual Cade Museum Prize for Innovation to the Final Four.

They are:

AbleNook — A Tampa startup that developed prefabricated living modules that snap together and are easily assembled, transported and adaptable to diverse terrain.

Feynman Nano — An Orlando company that invented technology for self-cleaning and omnidirectional anti-reflective films that can be easily applied on solar panels to improve the overall service lifetime.

Hesperos — An Orlando company that develops in vitro human models for drug and chemical testing to reduce the rate of failed human clinical trials and therefore decrease the cost to develop new drugs.

KynderMed — A St. Petersburg startup that developed a sleep mask enabling at-risk women to avoid the onset of premature labor.

The prize is an annual competition for early-stage inventors and entrepreneurs in Florida.

Founder-inventor Sean Verdecia of AbleNook said it was an honor to be chosen as a Final Four semi-finalist for this prestigious award.

“We feel this is super encouraging in regards to our long-term efforts to provide a dignified solution to disaster relief and housing shortages,” he said.

The startups will make presentations to a panel of judges on April 30, and the winner will be announced later that evening at the 2nd Annual Inventivity Bash, at Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall in Gainesville.

More than 100 entries vied for this year’s $50,000 prize.

Winning the first prize in 2010 helped to make the Tutoring Matching Service the success it is today, according to company President Ethan Fieldman.

“The notoriety of the prize, the support of the Cade family and the support of many community members who learned about us and wanted to help out is what did it,” Fieldman said.  “A lot of people work hard like we do, but it takes a village to create a successful company as much as it takes a village to raise a child.”

The goals of the prize are to provide seed capital and publicity for great ideas with market potential, and that’s exactly what it did for Fieldman’s company.

“The prize was incredibly helpful for Tutor Matching Service. People came out of the woodwork to connect us with good programmers, to connect us with colleges and universities, and to just lend advice wherever needed,” he said.

The Gainesville company contracts with universities to provide their official “private tutor list” whereby undergraduate and graduate students are certified by the university, set their own hourly rates and are booked for private tutoring by local high school parents or college students.

The prize money enabled the company to kick off the development of a dream addition to its university-endorsed private tutor list software — a free 1:1 tutoring and studying platform called  “It took a lot more than $50,000 to build, but the $50,000 was the spark to get us to create this new tool for the world,” Fieldman said.

This platform is now used by thousands of online tutors, he said. But it’s also used by traveling parents wanting to help their kids with their math homework. It’s also the free platform used by various colleges and universities to provide their free tutoring on campus to college students, he added.

Winning the Cade Prize also came at an opportune moment for NanoPhotonica, which provides nano-materials and fabrication techniques that enable electronic displays to have high resolution, vivid colors and high efficiency at reduced manufacturing costs.

“The impact of this award gained us recognition and raised customer awareness throughout Florida and the United States,” said Jean Tokarz-Scott, director of market development for the company, which has a business office in Orlando and its main lab in Gainesville. The company won the Cade prize in 2013.

“We are honored to be one of the first companies to receive this prize and believe this significant moment allowed us to propel our research and vision forward,” she said. “NanoPhotonica continues to flourish and our award-winning research and team have gained world-wide recognition throughout the display industry.”

The prize is named for Dr. J. Robert Cade, who led the team that invented Gatorade in 1965. The Cade Museum Prize is funded by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida. The presenting sponsor of the 2nd Annual Inventivity Bash is RTI Surgical, and in-kind legal services are being sponsored by Saliwanchik, Lloyd and Eisenschenk. The competition and judging platform is sponsored by Skild.

The other 2016 finalists were:

Actionable Quality Assurance. Quality Assurance Software. A unique combination of software as a service and customized testing procedures developed by food experts for food experts. Gainesville

AKQYS. The world’s first GPS luggage tracker with hidden cameras. Orlando

Apellix. Worker Bee. A platform-as-a-service for industrial workplaces, this robotics system is a revolutionary new product for completing dirty, dangerous, and dull tasks. Jacksonville

Artic Solar. XCPC Collectors. External concentrating parabolic solar collectors that provide heat, with a small enough footprint to be practical for commercial and industrial use. Jacksonville

Circulogix. faCTChecker. A micro-filter-based CTC (circulating tumor cells) capture and characterization platform to reveal important information of the metastatic process and contribute to the better management of cancer. Miami

DyCap Media Solutions. Nimbus Auto Tracker, a camera module that automates video production by utilizing state of the art image tracking technology. Gainesville

H2 Global. A water-based fuel that burns clean and offers equal or more power for all current

fossil fuel applications. Gainesville

ICARUS. A system that promotes algae biomass production from wastewater, reducing anthropogenic discharges of nutrients into receiving waters, while converting waste products into algae biomass. Tampa

One Health Labs. Patented medical technology utilizes ultraviolet light to inactivate surface bacteria while preserving the viability of host cells, thus reducing the likelihood of infection in surgical site wounds. Gainesville

PikMyKid. A mobile app-based student management and communication system that makes school dismissal smarter, safer and cheaper. Tampa

Rehoboth Innovations. ReSPECT- a device and software system that minimizes complication rates and improves shoulder function in osteoarthritic cases. Orlando

Wagner Industries. Launch vehicles and prototyping services for responsive space exploration. Orlando


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