Black Award investments provide Purdue-affiliated startups with funding to grow.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund has announced that it has awarded a total of $80,000 in investment funding to four Purdue University-affiliated startups.
The four startups, representing sectors from cybersecurity to agriculture, were selected to receive tier-one “Black Award” investments of $20,000 each. The startups are Covert Defenses, BDYWR, Rogo Ag LLC and C2 Medical Robotics Inc.
Covert Defenses LLC is developing technology aimed at preventing computer attacks on critical systems, such as a nuclear reactor or a power plant. The company, founded by Hany Abdel-Khalik, a Purdue University professor of nuclear engineering, has developed a new covert defense algorithm that employs evasive tactics to deceive attackers. The idea is to modify all the signals flowing through the network, to and from the sensors and plant components, by small amounts that do not impact system behavior but provide the ability to detect intrusion.
BDYWR is developing a method of a method of using the human body as an internet that could be used to securely authenticate Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) devices. Shreyas Sen, a Purdue assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has found a way to use the human body to communicate more securely, with the signal not going beyond a centimeter off the skin, and using 100 times less energy than traditional Bluetooth communication.
Rogo is developing autonomous robots to collect more accurate soil samples so farmers can make better decisions about their soil fertility application. Rogo has created SmartCore, an autonomous robot that is designed to collect accurate, repeatable soil samples in fields and return the samples directly to the operator, to be shipped off to the lab for analysis. The technology is provided as a service and makes soil sampling 20% more accurate, costs similar to market rates, and helps farmers and retailers get soil sampling right.
SmartCore uses a Bobcat skid steer chassis and navigates the fields using boundary algorithms and Lidar sensors, which send out laser light beams to detect objects. The operator only needs to identify trouble spots, such as ditches. The autonomous robot collects samples through a hydraulic auger bit, which is configured so that no soil escapes the core, guaranteeing accuracy, purity and depth control.
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C2 Medical Robotics Inc. is developing low-cost, articulated, disposable, robotic spinal surgical tools and devices for lumbar discectomy, the most common surgical spinal procedure in the United States with more than 350,000 cases a year. The company was founded by David J. Cappelleri, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.
The fund is a joint venture between the Purdue Foundry, a Purdue-based startup accelerator, and Elevate Ventures, a venture development organization that supports the development and success of entrepreneurs across Indiana.
“The Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund is accomplishing what it hope it would, connecting entrepreneurs with the funding they need to continue to grow their startups,” said Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures.
The Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund provides money for Purdue-affiliated startups with pre-seed, seed and early-stage investment and co-investment programs. Since the program’s beginning in 2014, the fund has committed to invest $2.7 million in 74 companies.
“The diverse range of interests among those startups selected is an indication of the quality of applicants,” said John Hanak, Purdue Ventures managing director. “These startups are a sign of the vibrancy of the Purdue ecosystem.”
Black Award recipients fit the following criteria: Purdue Foundry clients; hold intellectual property patented through the Purdue Research Foundation and/or companies owned by Purdue students, faculty or staff. Other considerations include market potential, operational viability and leadership.
The Black Award offers funding through a nonrecourse convertible promissory note finalized directly with Elevate Ventures.