Each year the Fealy Bearcat Bridge Fund (FBBF) offers select companies opportunities for further development and funding in preparation for entry into the Bearcat Incubator and other accelerator programs. The FBBF operates on an application basis and is open to ventures at all stages of development. This fund wouldn’t be possible without the support from Mr. Robert E. Fealy, The Coleman Foundation, Blue Chip Venture Company, The Brandery, Cintrifuse, Differential, HCDC, Metro Innovation, OCEAN, Taft Law, and Queen City Angels.
Protech Sensors was one of the 2015 FBBF applicants that received funding. Specifically, Protech Sensors was awarded a grant for their sensor concept that analyzes volatile organic compound (VOCs). The Protech Sensors team consists of Geethanga De Silva, Co-Founder and CEO and Dr. Fred Beyette, Co-Founder.
The VOC sensing technology has applications in a wide range of industries, such as forensic science, homeland security and defense, industrial exposure monitoring, home safety, pharmaceutical, and medical.
Protech Sensors has developed strong ties with the UC Center for Entrepreneurship & Commercialization and has benefited greatly by utilizing the resources the center offers. The CEC provided Protech Sensors engagement opportunities in coursework with business students and experienced faculty, including Dr. Thomas Dalziel, to narrow overall concept, connected them with KMK law firm via CEC network to review generous pro bono legal services to form their LLC, and offered mentorship from Ronald Meyers, CEC Startup Evangelist and now Protech Sensors Advisor.
“It all started with the Fealy Bearcat Bridge Fund program. In 2015, the FBBF program facilitated the formation of Protech Sensors. Since then it has been a driving force behind us, transforming a promising technology to an exciting startup,” said De Silva.
The Protech Sensors team was among the 2015 Innovative Quest Electronic Pitch (IQ E-Pitch) participants and winner of the graduate level competition. IQ E-Pitch is an elevator pitch competition that simulates the business reality of pitching to investors, where participants pitch their innovative idea for a chance at cash prizes.
These resources have prepared Protech Sensors for acceptance into I-Corps@Ohio, a statewide program to assist faculty and graduate students from Ohio research universities to validate the market potential of their technologies and assist with launching startup companies. Accepted startup companies receive $15k and mentoring using Lean Startup methodology.
CEC resources and mentorship have been a launching pad for Protech Sensors’ successful application and consideration in the UC Accelerator Program, which they recently have been accepted. The UC Accelerator program will continue the development of Protech Sensors with additional funding and mentorship. Protech Sensors is only one of the many examples of startup companies reaching out to the CEC for resources and guidance to prepare them for launching a new venture.
Next steps for Protech Sensors include successful completion of the UC Accelerator program, successful completion of industry pilot studies, and ultimately certification of their device by NIOSH.