Two Cal Poly student startup projects were chosen to receive $5,000 grants from VentureWell, a nonprofit organization that helps fund and coach college technology entrepreneurs in their early stages to develop and bring their innovations to the marketplace.
The local teams were among 50 entrepreneurial groups nationwide chosen to receive the grant. Cal Poly was the only school with two teams selected, according to a news release.
The winning Cal Poly teams, Higea Technologies and Mantis Composites, have participated in Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which offers programs to foster new student ventures.
VentureWell has a multistage grant program. The $5,000 grant allows the winning teams to attend a three-day coaching workshop in January with remaining funds used to support further development of the project. VentureWell also offers a second $20,000 grant opportunity for product development and testing.
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Higea uses magnetic nanotechnology to magnetize oil, making it easy and efficient to separate oil from water in the event of an oil spill, said Zoheb Mohammed, chief operating officer. In addition to Mohammed, the Higea team consists of CEO Tanner Cook, Wyatt Nelson, Morgan Gramling and Parker Sommerville.
The startup began about nine months ago as part of Gramling's senior project, Mohammed said. The team intends to use the grant money for legal fees to work with attorneys on getting a patent. Higea’s primary focus at the moment is raising money to further mechanical development. The team aims to raise $500,000 to support itself for the next 18 months, Mohammed said.
Mantis Composites aims to produce stronger, lighter and more customizable carbon fiber materials, using 3-D printing technology, said Ryan Dunn, chief executive officer.
Mantis Composites is a product of the combined skills of its co-founders, Dunn said. The team is in its final steps of completing its prototype manufacturing machines and hopes to have its first carbon fiber test parts in February. It plans to use the grant money primarily to pay for hardware for its machines. Mantis Composites’ current focus is testing and improving its manufacturing process, Dunn said. He added that the team plans to implement its first parts in the automotive racing market before expanding to other industries.
Other team members are Michael Chapiro, David Zilar, Michael DeLay and Ning Jeng.
Danielle Ames: 805-781-7902