Four Central Florida startups are innovating energy-storage technology in ways that make it safer, more efficient, less toxic, recyclable and more widely available.
Energy storage issues – from dying cell phones to massive recalls due to fire-prone battery-powered devices – are a universal pain point of the electronics, mobility and utility industries. Meanwhile, Americans annually discard billions of batteries containing toxic substances that pose a potential threat to health and the environment if improperly disposed, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
StarterStudio is the common catalyst for a cluster of companies offering different, yet complementary energy-storage and energy-delivery technology solutions to these and other problems.
The four companies and their innovations are:
- Capacitech Energy – Capacitech is commercializing a wire-shaped supercapacitor that can miniaturize electronics and be added to DC power cords to provide backup power, complement batteries and support power electronics such as those found in residential solar power systems. Capacitech has attracted about $625,000 in funding to date through investors, grants from the National Science Foundation, and competitions like the recent CADE Prize and Florida Venture Forum. Capacitech participated in StarterStudio’s 2018 Seed Stage Accelerator and received funding from its seed fund.
- HyCarb Inc. – HyCarb is developing recyclable batteries with up to five times the capacity, charge time and cycle life of traditional batteries. The company also will provide energy storage for rooftop solar installations to improve energy resilience and security by compensating for intermittency caused by cloud coverage. HyCarb has an exclusive license for three patents that utilize graphene aerogels and conducting polymers and a testing facility at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s MicaPlex. HyCarb is part of StarterStudio’s 2019 Seed Stage Accelerator cohort.
- GoGoPowerJuice – GoGoPowerJuice is helping travelers stay safely connected with a Charging Dock that dispenses on-the-go, fully charged portable power. The company partners with vendors and rideshare drivers to provide convenient charging pit stops. They are part of StarterStudio’s 2019 Seed Stage Accelerator cohort and participated previously in its Ideation Stage Accelerator.
- BatterEASE – This e-recycler reclaims the valuable materials from electronic waste to create affordable energy-storage solutions while providing electronic recycling services for businesses, municipalities, and individuals. The company plans to repurpose discarded lithium batteries in solar power kits for people who are off the grid, whether they be victims of natural disasters, people experiencing homelessness, or outdoors enthusiasts. Winner of Rally’s 2018 winter cohort and the 2018 San Francisco Hult Prize regional competitions, BatterEASE participated in StarterStudio’s Ideation Stage Accelerator.
“We are grateful that we were accepted to the cohort of Starter Studio’s 2019 Acceleration Program. We believe Starter Studio will prepare and position HyCarb to complete our Series A & B funding rounds and assist us with identifying our blind spots,” said Sigrid Cottrell, CEO of HyCarb, an advanced graphene technology company.
HyCarb President Andrew Heath said he and Cottrell looked into accelerator programs across the country in strategic regional areas before applying to StarterStudio.
“The mentorship, network, continued education, and warm introductions to the defense, aerospace, and energy industries will assist HyCarb in serving industry’s energy-storage needs and accelerate the commercialization of our solutions to pollution,” Heath said.
All of the companies say StarterStudio’s accelerator programs have provided critical support in their growth and development.
“The way the seed stage is set up, it focuses on your business model and how you are going to grow or build this company,” said Borey Seng co-founder and CEO of GoGoPowerJuice. “It’s been an exciting next step for sure. The mentors are invaluable. Some of the mistakes they’ve helped us avoid are what kills startups.”
Capacitech CEO Joe Sleppy said StarterStudio provides both support and networks.
“More than anything, though, accelerators provide accountability. You owe it, as the person who received the support, to do everything in your power to generate a ROI for your supporters. That accountability adds to fire and fuel for the startup.”
The four companies have also benefited from the educational, research and entrepreneurial resources of universities along Florida’s I-4 corridor from Datyona Beach to Tampa, including Embry-Riddle, the University of Central Florida, Rollins College and the University of South Florida. HyCarb and Capacitech are commercializing technology developed at UCF.
Nancy Kinnally, Relatable Communications Group