The Innovation Fund, Northeast Ohio’s most active early-stage fund for technology-based startups, has committed a combined $150,000 to three companies. The fund awards startups up to $100,000 so they can validate their technologies and business concepts and often bridges the financial gap between self-financing and angel and venture capital funding.
Heureka Software, a company allowing organizations to identify and manage risk related to its unstructured data, received the $100,000 award. Its Heureka Intelligence Platform, also called HIP, provides a unified framework to identify information and gather intelligence from their digital endpoints on a global scale, in real time.
“Organizations cannot protect their data if they don’t know where it exists,” said Dennis Cocco, co-director of GLIDE, the incubator at Lorain County Community College that administers the Innovation Fund. “Heureka’s solution can potentially identify sensitive information across organizations’ computers and information technology assets more proactively.”
The Cleveland company was founded in 2012 to create a more efficient and cost effective way to identify data on endpoint computers to be used in litigation. But once the founders started demoing their alpha version to customers, they found an even broader market.
“Our customers told us to forget about evidence for lawsuits,” said founder Ron Copfer. “They said the technology would be more useful finding malware or identifying data that posed risks for organizations that contain social security or credit card numbers. Within two years we pivoted, renamed ourselves, and began rebuilding our original vision.”
Heureka Software will match the Innovation Fund’s $100,000 award with non-state funds to complete a $200,000 project. The company plans to finish additional functionality that will meet current customer requests and expand its potential customer pool.
Two companies received $25,000 grants.
ABĒMIS is a Cleveland Heights company developing advanced microscopy and micro-testing systems for biomedical, bioengineering, industrial, and educational applications. The company’s microsystems are flexible, customizable, durable and portable. They are also far more affordable than today’s systems, which cost $100,000 to $200,000 or more.
The company’s co-founder, Todd Doehring, developed the technology out of need. “I needed a microscope capable of larger-scale, calibrated 3-D imaging for my research,” he said. “None existed, so I developed it myself.”
The company’s main product, the ABĒMIS MezoScope, has the capabilities Doehring needed: full X-Y-Z motor control, rapid imaging capabilities, large scale 3D mosaicing, and tele-networked, customizable software.
With a working prototype in hand, Doehring then partnered with co-founder Bill Nelson to launch the business.
“The ABĒMIS team makes the perfect startup pair,” said Russ Donda, the GLIDE entrepreneur-in-residence who works with bioscience companies. “They have an expert on the science side and an expert on the business side working together to carve a niche in microscopy. And they’re already getting market traction.”
The MezoScope™ and micro-testing systems are in production for the Lerner Research Institute, part of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and new systems are being built for national distributors like Meyer Instruments Inc. of Houston, TX.
ABĒMIS will use the funding for marketing and further development of the MezoScope™ system and to fund a bioengineering intern who’s assisting with programming and designing new 3D imaging and visualization tools.
The second $25,000 award went to NEOEx Systems of Amherst. The company provides its customers valuable data by dispatching long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles at affordable prices.
One of the main challenges today’s drone operators face is flight duration. Most drones use batteries, which are heavy for driving propellers with electric motors, or internal combustion engines, which are inefficient at converting aviation fuels to drive propellers mechanically. Both limit flight time.
NEOEx uses light-weight hydrogen fuel and an energy-efficient fuel cell to convert the hydrogen into electricity to drive the electric motors. This combination should provide up to 72 hours of continuous operation without refueling.
“Over the next few years, UAVs will be used in a broad and expanding range of commercial and government research applications but today’s models are severely limited in flight duration and expensive,” said Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center’s Chris Mather, who coaches advanced energy startups in Northeast Ohio. “NEOEx’s design will offer two to four times longer flight times than what’s currently available at less than one-third the price. And Mark has the industry and technical background to enable this breakthrough.”
The company is using the money to submit patent applications and work on its prototype.
The Innovation Fund has now committed more than $11 million to 168 startups. Its portfolio has raised more than $211 million in additional funding.