University Spin Game
Success is rare and slow for spinoff companies, but the potential rewards -- visibility and income - keep schools playing.
Technology: An unmanned micro air vehicle (MAV) that uses an embedded-vision navigation system and bendable wing technology. In photo from left: Jason Grzywna, Amir Rubin and Bryan da Frota. [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Bryan da Frota, co-founder and CEO
Jason Grzywna, co-founder and director of unmanned systems
Amir Rubin, co-founder and director of core technology
Spun off: 2003
Sales: $700,000 in 2007; $5.6 million projected for 2008
Market: U.S. military and military of U.S. allies
“We basically gave an unmanned vehicle the ability to see,” says da Frota, who runs the business side of the company while Grzywna and Rubin — both electrical engineers — oversee the technology. The product, called Maveric, is a small device that a soldier under fire could toss into the air to locate enemy fire. Maveric would communicate enemy coordinates back to other military units that could return fire.
Prioria licensed bendable wing technology from UF’s MAV Lab, led by Pete Ifju.
The company’s funding so far has been what da Frota calls “blood, sweat and tears” along with money from engineering services they’ve provided to other companies. They are looking for $3 million to $6 million in investment capital and recently presented at the Florida Venture Forum Venture Capital Conference.