Rural energy storage and aquaponics are among the focus areas for the 2020 cohort taking part in the Eastern Shore’s F3 Tech Accelerator this fall.
Running from September through December, the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center program focuses on supporting startups in five key areas related to rural needs: agriculture, aquaculture, energy, environment and supply chain. This year’s cohort has companies from Maryland, as well as New York and Vermont. This came after it reached out nationally with the application process.
“Our real focus is taking companies who have already validated all of their product aspects, and who need help with that last commercial hurdle,” said program director Chris Hlubb. That could be prototyping to get a product ready to manufacture, or pushing forward a negotiation or licensing deal.
The accelerator doesn’t take equity, and companies can receive up to $150,000 in funding and professional services valued at $250,000. At the end of the program, one company will receive an additional $25,000.
Additionally, it’s unique in that it takes a hands-on approach with programming, albeit remotely.
“It’s much less academic and much more focused on trying to help a lot of these companies add some experience in the field that they are developing a product,” Hlubb said.
A big part of that is through one-on-one work directly with the companies. Startups are paired with teams of executives, as well as folks in the program with specific experience.
“It’s based on a combination of methods where we provide more mentoring,” Hlubb said, “and stand-in executive capacity with our team as well as others who work with us who are executives from industries that are relevant to each of the subject areas, and who have experience in those fields, to help companies get a leg up on commercial discussions.”
By the end, the goal is that the teams are ready to make a formal presentation to a customer, or, if they need funding to scale, an investor.
Here’s a look at the companies:
- ACTIVEcharge — A company created out of UMBC that makes monitoring technology for wind turbine blades; it was previously in the Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator
- InventWood — A materials company making wood-derived materials using cellulose technology out of the University of Maryland College Park
- Solar Oyster — A Baltimore-based team that combined from an environmental consultancy and military contractor to develop a solar-powered floating barge that grows oysters and automates the process
- EnergyLink3 — A Binghamton, New York-based company adapting non-toxic lithium ion battery technology for rural energy storage
- Vand — A Vermont-based company pivoting water filtration technology to aquaponics