Embry-Riddle Expands Reach of ‘Launch Your Venture’ Competition to University Students Throughout Florida


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University today announced it is opening the participant pool for its annual student business-pitch competition to hundreds more future business leaders across Florida. Boeing HorizonX, the first official presenting sponsor, alongside platinum sponsor International Speedway Corporation (ISC), will support the newly expanded “Launch Your Venture” competition.

Launch Your Venture will feature startup teams representing colleges and universities throughout the state of Florida vying for top prize money – key to future research and the funding of a successful business. Organized in partnership with Embry-Riddle’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the competition will focus on the theme, “Disruptive Technology and Business Model Innovation” in aerospace. The competition will take place April 2019 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Participants will showcase their products and ideas that could transform the aviation, aerospace and engineering industries. Industry experts and potential investors will judge participants’ entries based on transformative technological applications, originality and business potential. In addition to cash awards, winners will receive in-kind consultations on IT support, early-stage venture funding, accounting, intellectual property, marketing and more.

“Having Boeing HorizonX as a current Nexus Partner and now as a sponsor of this groundbreaking competition further exemplifies our commitment to being at the forefront of providing the necessary tools for innovative startups to be successful,” said Embry-Riddle President Dr. P. Barry Butler. “By expanding the participant pool for this event and including major industry sponsors like Boeing and ISC, game-changing technology startups will have a platform to expose their bleeding-edge technologies to industry at the highest level.” 

Previous winners include Embry-Riddle student and GRD Biomechanics CEO Mike Geldart, who took the top prize at the 2018 competition with The Ascend™ knee brace, and current Research Park Technology Business Incubator client Sensatek Propulsion Technologies. Founded by Embry-Riddle Worldwide graduate and U.S. Marine veteran Reamonn Soto, Sensatek licenses patented technology to manufacture ceramic sensors that wirelessly measure the health of gas turbines, predicting costly failures before they happen.

Boeing HorizonX and ISC are two of five Nexus Partners at the John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex) located adjacent to Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus. Other Nexus partners include CEO Business Alliance, global software solutions leader Wellspring, and healthcare industry provider DuvaSawko EM Billing & Management Solutions.

Boeing HorizonX is also a key participant in the MicaPlex’s Technology Business Incubator, which supports startup and early-stage companies who are in the research and development intensive phase of their growth process. Winners of previous Launch Your Venture competitions have taken their startups to the next level by participating in this key step toward market viability.

Boeing HorizonX explores opportunities through strategy and experimentation with business models for emerging aerospace applications, leveraging nontraditional partnerships and a venture fund that invests in early-stage startups focused on aerospace and industrial innovations. Its investment portfolio includes companies specializing in autonomous systems, energy and data storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning and alternative propulsion.

“By investing in companies that are developing transformative technologies, game-changing manufacturing methods and new business models, we aim to unlock new capabilities and ways of thinking that could shape the future of the aerospace industry,” said Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “We are proud to share this future-focused mission with Embry-Riddle and support burgeoning entrepreneurs who could change the way we approach transportation, aviation and aerospace.”

As the leading promotor of motorsports entertainment and events in the United States, ISC owns and operates more than a dozen motorsports facilities including Daytona Beach International Speedway. In addition to a focus on innovation and cutting-edge concepts within the racing industry, ISC invests in community, charitable and environmentally sustainable programs. It joined Embry-Riddle’s Research Park as a Nexus Partner in 2016.

“Our existing relationship with the university and its Research Park has enabled us to see how events and competitions like this are launching pads for the future, not only in the motorsports industry, but also for our community and the state,” said Craig Neeb, Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation and Development Officer for ISC.

For more details and participation information on the 2019 Launch Your Venture, go to erau.edu/launchyourventure.

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About The John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex)

Known as the MicaPlex, this cornerstone building of the Research Park at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will house collaborative workspaces and a wide range of laboratories and business support services collocated to ensure that technology-focused startups will have every advantage for success. The first building phase also includes a large wind tunnel and test facility with cutting-edge instrumentation. Named for former U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Florida) in honor of his key role in supporting the university’s educational and research endeavors, it is strategically located in Central Florida’s “Convergence Zone” of innovation and discovery. This collaborative atmosphere is designed for incubating new technologies across 10,000 square feet of flex lease space to meet tenants’ needs. For more information, go to erau.edu/micaplex. For information about partnership opportunities, call (386) 226-4928 or email micaplex@erau.edu.