A tech startup, founded by a UCF alumnus and a faculty member, has won $26,000 in competition prize money this month. These winnings, says the chief executive for Capacitech Energy, will go toward the company’s continued growth and future aspirations.
“Award funding buys a young company time. Time to negotiate a contract with better terms, time to further vet their plans, and time to accelerate their growth before taking dilutive capital.” says Joseph Sleppy ’18, the company’s CEO and a UCF electrical engineering graduate. “We would not be here without funding from sources, like competitions or grants. They bought us time to develop a product and prepare for our next steps. Non-dilutive funding supported the intellectual freedom and creative direction of Capacitech.”
Capacitech won $15,000 in the 2019 Cade Museum Prize, which challenges inventors and entrepreneurs to demonstrate a creative approach to addressing real-world issues. The company was awarded $10,000 from Space Florida in the seed-funding category of the Florida Venture Forum’s Florida Early Stage Capital Conference, one of the largest such gatherings in the state. Additionally, Capacitech received $1,000 at the two-day tech conference eMerge Americas!.
Capacitech produces cable-based capacitors, a thin, wire-shaped device that stores energy. When installed into solar energy systems, the device works with the system’s equipment to enhance performance, improve efficiency, and extend their operating life, which will reduce consumer costs. The concept behind cable-based capacitors was developed by Capacitech cofounder Jayan Thomas, a UCF nanotechnology professor and a specialist in energy conversion and storage.
“Since our beginning, Capacitech has been focused on using our technology to make the world a better place. When I envision the future, I see cleantech. Capacitech’s cable-based capacitor is an enabling technology for cleantech and thus for the future, too.” says Sleppy. “Right now, Capacitech’s focus is solely on complementing residential solar power systems. Looking ahead, I see us complementing utility scale solar projects, too, as well as using our cable-based capacitors to energize a new age of electric vehicles, information technology backup power systems, medical technologies like exoskeletons, and space exploration, among a wide range of other areas.”
Earlier this year, InnoEnergy — the innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe — named Capacitech one of the top 30 startups in the world. The company won first place in the Florida Venture Forum’s Collegiate Business Plan Competition and received a highly competitive NSF Grant last year. In 2016, Capacitech won the UCF College of Business annual Joust New Venture Competition, a Shark Tank-like contest where UCF students pitch judges on business concepts.
Sleppy gives credit to a wide range of entrepreneurial-support resources at UCF for lending a hand into Capacitech’s growth and success. When he and Thomas established the company in 2016, they found assistance through the Office of Research and Commercialization’s I-Corps Program, the College of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and the Business Incubation Program. UCF has placed an institutional emphasis on fostering relationships between entrepreneurs and innovators that will produce business partnerships like Capacitech.
“It is clear that UCF is not just a university. It is part of an innovation and entrepreneurial community within a major metropolitan area that has been very inviting to up-and-coming companies like Capacitech,” Sleppy says. “Thanks to Florida’s innovation ecosystem, we have another $26,000 of funding to apply towards building a Capacitech enabled future.”
Story by Anthony Moore, UCF Today