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Two Startups Win Big at Commercialization Academy Demo Day

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On May 24, 2016, Griffiss Institute and Wasabi Ventures hosted investors, entrepreneurs and technology transfer (T2) professionals to watch eight startups pitch to judges and an audience of over 100 people during the Commercialization Academy’s Demo Day in Utica, N.Y. Each of the startups had recently completed the spring 2016 Commercialization Academy—a Griffiss Institute entrepreneurial education program sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI). Demo Day functions as the culmination of the Academy’s curriculum, and all teams had to explain to judges how they have been disrupting the market with AFRL/RI technologies as a pivotal part of their business model. 

During this year’s Demo Day, $50,000 was up for grabs as teams took the stage for four minutes each to pitch to audience members and a panel of judges, in order to see which startup company and AFRL/RI technology-based products and services were most deserving of the prize.

The eight startup teams who took the stage on Tuesday, May 24 were: Inara, OneTouchTrust, Covrt Security, GeoPixi, Xompass FaaS, SwitchNote, Sravel, and CFO Technology Corporation. Xompass FaaS, a service platform that provides intelligence to assets in the energy industries, walked away with the judges’ vote and $25,000, while a company that combats online identity fraud, One Touch Trust, won the audience vote and $25,000.

Patrick Harris, Vice President of Xompass FaaS, said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this group, and the Air Force Research Lab has done great things for our technology. Hopefully we can continue to develop the product to incorporate some more of the research lab’s patents and make the world a better place.”

“I am very excited to win! I have been so grateful to be a part of this program,” said Crystal Taggart, founder and CEO of OneTouchTrust. “It’s made a huge difference in my business, and helped me to make connections that I wouldn’t have been able to make outside this organization, so I’m really, really, excited to be a part of it.”

The judges looked at how each team is using AFRL/RI technologies and the innovative ways they currently, or will, bring these technologies into the public market.

The Commercialization Academy is blazing a path in Department of Defense intellectual property (IP) technology transfer (T2), fundamentally changing the way a startup gets built by pairing hungry entrepreneurs with AFRL technologies and creating new companies to impact local economies.

“The Commercialization Academy represents a transformative approach to doing T2 at a research lab. The combination of hands-on mentoring, local funding, founders with domain expertise, and world-class intellectual property from the labs has created the ability to create scalable companies that impact the entire ecosystem,” said Wasabi Ventures general partner TK Kuegler.

Over the past six months, the spring 2016 Commercialization Academy, run by Wasabi Ventures, has seen 18 individuals set out to transform AFRL technologies into new startups, with eight startups developed. All eight teams were able to create a legal entity, license their piece of IP, spec up product designs, learn the proper way to pitch their IP, develop a go-to-market plan, and define their growth strategies, all of which lead up to the spring Demo Day.

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