SU startup wins $1M in 43 North biz contest

By Eric Reinhardt

SparkCharge makes a portable electric-vehicle (EV) charging unit

BUFFALO – SparkCharge, a Syracuse University startup company, captured the $1 million grand prize in the recent 43North business competition in Buffalo.

It was one of eight finalists of the $5 million startup contest that were announced at the Oct 4 awards ceremony for the 5th annual competition.

SparkCharge offers a portable electric-vehicle (EV) charging unit The company developed the “portable, ultrafast charging unit for electric vehicles that fits in the trunk of a car and charges at level 3 speed, giving users one mile every 60 seconds,” according to Syracuse University.

‘Tonight was an incredible demonstration of the continued validation of our competition’s commitmentto quality of our applicants. I’d like to congratulate our eight tremendous winners, especially SparkCharge, our grand prize winner. We welcome them to Buffalo,” Eric Reich, chair of the 43North board of directors, said in a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Besides the cash prizes, 4ENorth also awarded free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors, and access to other business-incentive programs to the eight startups.

In addition to SparkCharge, 43North awarded seven competing startup companies a $500,000 cash prize for their efforts. The only other New York company was LegWorks from Buffalo, a “social enterprise revolutionizing access to high quality prosthetics for amputees” per Cuomo’s news release.

The 43North competition also hosted startups from Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; Gainesville, Florida; Boulder, Colorado; Waterloo, Ontario; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The final round of pitching was a culmination of this year’s edition of the 43North competition, an applicadon and judging process that began in March. A total of 18 finalists were reduced to 10 companies, which advanced and pitched before seven judges that ultimately determined the 2018 43North winners.

About SparkCharge

SparkCharge “launched” from the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University to acceleration stage as part of Techstars in Boston.

The Blackstone LaunchPad is the school’s “innovation hub – open to all faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are interested in exploring ideas, creative entrepreneurship, and venture development,” according to its website.

Founder and CEO Josh Aviv developed and launched the company as a student at Syracuse.

The firm’s research and development operations are based at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE), led by CTO Christopher Ellis and lead systems engineer Richard Whitney.

Besides its win in the 43North competition, SparkCharge also captured the grand prize in the 2017 New York State Business Plan Competition.

SparkCharge has raised institutional funding and is “now rapidly scaling,” Syracuse said. The company’s latest investment round closed in spring 2018.

Supporting SparkCharge’s growth is PJC, a Boston-based venture-capital firm that focuses on consumer and enterprise technology investments. *

This article provided by NewsEdge.