Local Companies Manser Edbrooke Technology and Moye Consultants Win Grants at Innovation Park TechGrant Pitch Night
Five local, early-stage companies competed for a chance to win up to $15,000 at Innovation Park’s Annual TechGrant Pitch Night
Innovation Park of Tallahassee is pleased to announce that Manser Edbrooke Technology (MET) and Moye Consultants have been declared the winners of Innovation Park’s TechGrant competition for 2021. Manser Edbrooke Technology took home the first-place prize of $15,000, while Moye Consultants was awarded a $10,000 grant.
Innovation Park initiated the TechGrant Program in 2005 and has since awarded more than $500,000 to almost 30 companies, several of which are still flourishing in Tallahassee and producing high-wage tech jobs. Five finalists competed for the two grants. The other finalists were Blue Ocean Discover, Genetic Biocontrols and Jomoworks.
“We are excited!” said Patrick Manser, MET’s CEO and cofounder. “With this funding, we feel confident moving forward and the opportunity given to us has been very helpful. While the application process seemed daunting, we received great support and feedback to help us prepare our application.”
“I think we had the highest score because of the help we received in making our business pitch better and more understandable for those who don’t have experience in the field,” said Charlie Edbrooke, MET cofounder. Innovation Park paired each finalist with a local public-relations agency; MET’s PR firm was RB Oppenheim Associates.
“We have to thank Innovation Park not only for these grant opportunities, but also for the resources and connections they helped us with. These have helped make us a better company, understand our own idea better and helped us better convey our ideas,” Edbrooke added.
Davis George Moye, founder of Moye Consultants, agreed about both Innovation Park and PR coaching.
“Innovation Park’s work in developing a program to introduce serious new ventures to local business and tech leaders is a tremendous service,” he said. “I am a decent engineer, but salesmanship is a struggle. Sachs Media this year and RB Oppenheim Associates last year were vital in helping me quickly articulate my business model and value proposition to a stranger who is unfamiliar with my industry.”
“We are fortunate to have two great research universities, a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the invaluable resources Innovation Park offers,” said Ron Miller, Innovation Park’s executive director.
“These assets – combined with our effort to support technology commercialization – lead to economic diversification through the creation of new technology companies and higher-paying jobs,” Ron added. “We are already seeing this with previous TechGrant winners, and we look forward to seeing even more progress in the future.”
Manser Edbrooke Technology
Manser Edbrooke Technology has devised an advanced rapid-prototyping printer they’ve named “Firebird” that combines the versatility and accuracy of computer numerical control – or CNC – machines with the affordability, convenience, and powerful software of a 3D printer.
CNC machining, a process in which pre-programmed computer software determines the movement of factory machinery and tools, are accurate and versatile, but they are large and expensive and require a separate work area. 3D printing can create three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Compared to CNC machining, 3D printers are inexpensive, easy-to-use, and convenient. But 3D printing is limited by material selection and often produces inaccurate prototypes.
“Firebird bridges these two methods, while focusing on the pros of each,” said Charlie Edbrooke, company cofounder. “Firebird takes the capabilities of CNC machines and combines it with the small form and powerful programming that goes into 3D printing. Firebird will be cost-effective, convenient, easy-to-use, and very versatile and capable.”
The grant will help the Firebird team move their company to the next step, Manser said: “This grant will be used to help protect the intellectual property of our program and develop the first functional prototype of our system. While we have virtual prototypes, we have estimated the cost of creating a physical version at several thousand dollars – something out of reach for a bootstrapped business such as ours.”
“With a physical prototype,” Edbrooke continued, “we can demonstrate the Firebird to potential investors or customers. Interest will grow in our venture and begin our public journey to market.”
Moye Consultants focuses on the battery industry. In his 5-minute pitch, Moye described a scenario he would find himself in.
“A customer comes to me and says, ‘I want a special battery that’s a specific size and performs a specific job that’s never been done; can you do it?’” Moye explained. “I responded, ‘Yes, but prototyping will cost you $100,000.”
Prototyping was cost-prohibitive so Moye said he developed a software program – Simultaneous Battery and Capacitor Design Model, or SiMod – that can simulate what any particular battery must look like. SiMod computes energy storage, operating and design factors, operating conditions, physical size, and more. And, Moye adds, producing this simulation would cost about $20,000, just one-fifth the cost of a prototype.
This was not Moye’s first attempt to win a TechGrant.
“I competed in TechGrant in 2020 but did not place,” Moye said. “This year, I took the same application I had used the year before. Where the judges said I was weak, I made changes, and in the meantime, I kept working on the actual business. Now that some high-profile customers have contracted for my energy-storage design services, I could speak to the work we are doing, as opposed to what we hoped to do. Those successes reflected in this competition.”
Moye said he will use the prize money to hire a patent lawyer and the rest will be used to boost marketing at a battery trade show. Moye offered this advice to startups considering applying for a TechGrant.
“Give it your best shot! If you’re rejected, that’s bad, but pay attention to the feedback,” Moye said. “That feedback should inform your business’s weaknesses, which you need to shore up, or problems you need to overcome before growing to the next level.”
These grants were awarded during Innovation Park’s annual TechGrant Pitch Night, held Oct. 21 on Zoom. The event was co-presented this year by Hancock Whitney and Danfoss Turbocor. This is the second year the event was held virtually. Event Sponsors this year include Brown & Brown Insurance, Heinz Nurseries; Lewis, Longman and Walker; NAI TALCOR; the Office of Economic Vitality; and Thomas Howell Ferguson.