Innovations that have evolved from early-stage research to near-market potential are the focus of a symposium to be hosted by the University of Central Florida intended to uncover little-known gems of business opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors.

From COVID-19 mitigation solutions, advanced textiles and rocket fuels to wireless applications and artificial intelligence, technologies with investment potential made by UCF students, faculty, researchers and alumni will be presented in the virtual UCF Technology Ventures Symposium on Feb. 17, from 8 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.

The symposium will include students, faculty and alumni from UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Business, College of Optics and Photonics, College of Medicine, College of Community Innovation and Education, as well as entrepreneurs and investors.

The event’s specialty tracks are designed to help entrepreneurs and investors network, improve startup pitches, uncover sources of capital, and discover new licensable technologies. The agenda includes students and recent UCF graduates who will competitively pitch their technology startup ideas for a top prize of $10,000.

Symposium organizing committee member Benjamin Patz, a UCF engineering alumnus and Orlando-based entrepreneur who serves on the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s Dean’s Advisory Board, says there are no events in Orlando that present late-stage technology research with big market potential to investors.

“UCF is a leading institution with leading research. It makes sense to bring investors and UCF researchers together in this forum,” Patz says.

He notes the recent story of Orlando-based Kismet Technologies to illustrate the near-market-readiness of the technology to be presented at the symposium. The company, founded by UCF engineering alumna Christina Drake, Ph.D., a symposium panelist, centers on nanotechnology inside a long-lasting disinfectant to fight COVID-19 which began as an idea in early 2020 by UCF faculty researchers. They received National Science Foundation funding to study and test the technology to the point it was ready to transfer to the marketplace for business development.

Keynote speaker Jason Eichenholz, Ph.D., will share his success story as a technology pioneer. The UCF optics and photonics alumnus co-founded Luminar Technologies, an Orlando company specializing in driverless car technology that recently went public in a multi-billion-dollar venture and was recognized by Forbes in its inaugural Impact 20 list.

Other featured speakers include a second keynote by UCF aerospace engineering alumnus Kevin DiMarzio, vice president of business development, Made In Space, the company credited with sending the first 3D printer to the International Space Station. Rebecca Liu-Doyle, principal, Insight Partners, will add her national investment expertise to the Investors panel; and Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO, Fattmerchant, named to Forbes‘ 40 Under 40 in Finance list in 2020, will add insight to the “How to Pitch Your Idea” panel.

Undergraduate student Mason Mincey (pictured), a senior studying materials science and engineering, will pitch his team’s idea for a technology-infused fabric that he says would help reduce global waste in the textile industry. Mincey and teammates Derek Saltzman, a junior studying materials science and engineering; and seniors Patrick Michel, business administration, and Matthew Yaeger, actuarial science, work on the technology through the startup company Soarce.

“Our team started our first business when we were bright-eyed freshmen,” Mincey says. “As years went by, competition after competition, we learned starting a business shouldn’t be just about making money. It should be thought of as a vehicle for change.”

“Being selected to pitch at the UCF Technology Ventures Symposium meant a lot to our team because we know the kinds of people coming to see the hidden gems of UCF. With enough reading and experience in the lean startup methodology, we hope to create an impact.”

See Team Soarce’s video pitch here.

Register free-of-charge at the UCF Technology Ventures Symposium web page.

Pictured: UCF materials science and engineering student Mason Mincey, and a closeup of laboratory work being performed for his startup company Soarce.