Rice’s OwlSpark Accelerator Debuts First Class of Startups

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by providing educational guides to schools. These guides would detail how, using locally salvaged materials, these youth and their communities can build wind turbines, solar cookers, and other needed infrastructure and products.

Founder and CEO Andrew Amis says the company has agreements so far with 10 schools in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and it hopes to raise $130,000 to expand into a total of 100 schools.

OwlEngine: Founder and CEO Andy Shih says their project hopes to combine data, analysis, and artificial intelligence to “replace humans in stock trading.”

Shih says the startup can provide better returns than current methods, which are subject to human bias. He said OwlEngine’s trades over the past week netted a gain of 0.04 percent, even as the major indices fell into the red. “I trust only one thing, data,” he says. “Data will never lie to me or use ignorance as an advantage.”

ConceptNode: This startup aims to use data analytics to help companies recruit employees and build more effective teams. David Sullivan, its CEO, says the startup goes beyond traditional human-resources management by analyzing data on work history, skills, and personal interests with graph theory to help companies assemble teams that will work the best together.

ConceptNode is currently conducting a pilot with Morningstar and is seeking $70,000 to help fund other pilot programs.

Medical Informatics: Led by Rice alumna Emma Faust, Medical Informatics provides a platform where all physiological data is collected, processed, and analyzed in real-time for use by health care providers. The data can be accessed via tablets and smartphones and is designed to help caregivers, especially those in trauma care, better and more efficiently process the health-care data available for patients.

The startup has already signed up Texas Children’s Hospital as one client and raised $800,000. It plans to register its platform with the Food & Drug Administration and to raise a Series A financing in 2014.

Sweatalyzer: This startup manufactures a band-aid-sized wearable device that can monitor blood-alcohol content through human sweat. Developed by bioengineering graduate students, the Sweatalyzer—currently in a patch the shape of Texas—is a one-time-use device that turns darker as the BAC increases to 0.02 percent, 0.08 percent (the legal limit in Texas), and 0.15 percent.

“It stops measuring at 1.5 percent,” said Jay Dhuldhoya, its CEO. “There is an upper limit so it can’t be used as a drinking game. This was very important to universities.”

Dhuldhoya says Sweatalyzer’s customers go beyond university and high schools. They are looking at approaching companies in oil-and-gas, construction, manufacturing, and other sectors where worker safety is monitored.

CoachedSchooling: Mike Olson, the startup’s CEO and a longtime teacher, calls this edtech concept creating “high-tech private schools that are affordable to the middle class.”

The startup provides an online portal that offers edtech software-as-a-service curriculum to set up small, low-cost K-12 private schools. CoachedSchooling has launched a proof-of-concept school in Houston and seeks $250,000 in seed funding.

ParkiT: Four undergraduate engineering students formed ParkiT to develop image-detection technology to better manage parking facilities. The entrepreneurs are looking to start a pilot with the Houston Arts District’s garage and are seeking $150,000 in seed money.

The Emergency Core: This social entrepreneurship startup, run by two Rice architecture students, aims to solve a very simple problem: providing dislocated victims of natural or man-made disasters with flooring in their temporary shelters. The product is a shipping crate or pallet that can hold emergency goods for victims, but upon distribution of those goods, can then be broken down to be used as a mobile flooring system.

Co-founder Scott Key says they will start a pilot with the Red Cross in the spring and that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reviewed their product. Emergency Core is seeking $28,000 in funding.

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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