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The CFDRC Innovation Accelerator Program


Innovation Accelerator teams met regularly during lunch and after hours
to discuss their ideas and build their business plans.

Huntsville, Ala - CFD Research Corporation has launched an internal Innovation Accelerator program designed to transition novel technologies into the marketplace. The Innovation Accelerator operates much like other startup accelerators in high tech regions around the country. Teams compete for the opportunity to receive investment along with resources and guidance to accelerate down a commercial startup path.

“CFDRC’s Innovation Accelerator is part of a growing trend called intrapreneurship, where employees think and act like entrepreneurs while working within the larger organization,” said CFDRC president, LTG (ret) Joe Cosumano. “The program is helping support the mission, vision, and culture of the company by encouraging innovation and providing a pathway to commercialization,” he added.

The CFDRC Innovation Accelerator program has three phases. In the first phase, teams craft their business ideas using the principles of Strategic Innovation (adapted from the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management). The first phase culminates in an Innovation Forum where judges score each of the business concepts in a pitch competition, and the top teams progress to the next phase. In the second phase, the teams apply Lean Startup principles (adapted from Stanford University) to refine and validate their business model. The teams present their business ideas to corporate executives in a Shark Tank-like setting. In the third phase one team receives seed funding from the company that funds a project focused on demonstrating the business model in a case study. This provides validation for potential investors and real world experience for the team. The ultimate goal of the accelerator program is to prepare the successful team for a launch event.

Results from the 2016 Accelerator Program

The program started with accelerated training on the principles of Strategic Innovation. Teams prepared briefings for the pitch competition at the Innovation Forum. The teams had 12 minutes to describe their business ideas in an open forum with all CFDRC employees. A review panel of peers judged each pitch and ranked the top candidates.

    
CFDRC Innovation Accelerator teams pitching their ideas to the company and reviewers.

 

Five teams were selected to progress into the second phase of the program:


Alpha-Bio is a device that offers real-time, consistent health monitoring for women. The technology is intended to non-invasively monitor bio markers that can indicate risk for STDs, cancer, diabetes, and a broad array of other health issues. The concept leverages multiple technologies within the company, including sensors, software development, data mining and physiological modeling.


CellUp is a microfluidic platform that provides consistent, high quality cells from human tissues for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. The first application is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), which is a highly concentrated blood fraction containing platelets and growth factors to promote healing. Applications include orthopedic injury and surgery, dental and oral surgery, and cosmetic surgery.


PerFit is an application that allows people to create an accurate representation of their body from a few measurements, and to see how the clothes fit in a virtual setting before making a purchase decision. The core technology inside PerFit was developed over the past five years for the US Army, and provides a better understanding of how soldiers respond to various loads and external conditions.


Predictive Power is a smart battery controller that uses algorithms developed for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to reduce cost and extend the lifetime of lithium-ion batteries. The target market is solar + battery installations and has the potential to enable widespread adoption of clean, renewable energy sources.


SweatSense is a wearable sensor platform designed to monitor physiological changes in an athlete during training or competition. The system, which has been developed to monitor performance and fatigue in Air Force personnel, provides a continuous chemical analysis of components of sweat that indicate fatigue, dehydration and other conditions.


 

Recipients of Corporate Investment

The Perfect Fit Online Clothing App (PerFit) team was selected to receive seed funding to prepare for external investors and transition into a startup company.

According to market research, half of all online clothing sales are returned to the seller, resulting in over $600B in lost revenue from returns and $20B in lost sales from anxiety about how clothes purchased online will actually fit.

“The ability to see yourself moving around in an outfit can be a game changer for discriminating shoppers who want a certain look and fit,” says Dr. Palien Roos, Human Movement and Biomechanics Expert. “PerFit is the first clothing app to show the fit while in motion,” Dr. Roos added.

Two additional teams, Predictive Power and SweatSense, will receive corporate investment allowing them to reach important milestones.

The Innovation Accelerator program represents a significant investment by the company into commercialization and demonstrates our commitment to transition CFDRC technology into the marketplace. “We have created an environment that encourages innovation here at CFDRC,” said David Thomas, Director of Strategic Innovation. “We support entrepreneurial activities and provide real opportunities for our people to pursue their ideas for commercial products.”

For more information, contact David Thomas (david.thomas@cfdrc.com).


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