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Company that develops sensors for spacecraft named Startup of the Year

Veronica Brezina

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Scout CEO and co-founder Eric Ingram (holding award) at the Startup of the Year Summit. Screengrab

The Virginia-based startup Scout Inc. has claimed the title of the 2021 Startup of the Year. 

Scout, which is developing space sensing technology, was named the winner during the annual Startup of the Year Summit Thursday. 

This is the ninth year of the event, hosted by Embarc Collective. The event, recognizing the top rising startups, is held in Tampa and features breakout sessions with founders and funders.

Company CEO and co-founder Eric Ingram pitched his startup to a panel of judges, describing Scout’s innovative technology that will change how spacecraft navigate. 

In today’s world, Ingram said, we monitor spacecraft successfully, but over time as outer space becomes more crowded with satellites, the ability to track craft will be strained. This will affect GPS-centered devices and the internet.

The company’s mission is to have its device dubbed Scout Vision, attach to spacecraft and provide “vision” for the craft so it can be cognizant of its surroundings, making it able to avoid collisions.

Ingram said the company has raised $1.25 million through two small funding rounds. The company has a contract with space company Momentus. 

The other competing top four finalists were: 

Home Lending Pal: The artificial intelligence-powered platform acts as a mortgage advisor. The Orlando-based startup analyzes thousands of data points to find the most affordable mortgage options for someone, uncovers hidden mortgage and closing costs, and matches the user to lenders. Bryan Young, Founder and CEO, said they are on a mission to help Black individuals become homeowners. One of the co-founders, Steve Better, was a consumer loan underwriter for Wells Fargo. 

Heroshe: Heroshe, a Nigerian-led startup, is a logistics service provider. The startup’s mission is to bridge the shipping gap between Nigeria and global markets. The startup claims to serve over 40,000 customers and earns $60,000 in monthly revenue. 

Relavo: The Baltimore-based startup has developed a device that safely allows kidney-failure patients to receive dialysis treatment at home. When patients conduct in-home dialysis sessions, there is a risk of bacteria entering the body. Relavo developed PeritoneX, an in-line connection device that aims to internally disinfect dialysis tubes at all connection sites in the dialysis system. The device costs $150 per month and is purchased by dialysis clinicians on behalf of their patients. Medicare then reimburses those expenses. The company is currently raising a seed round of $2 million to complete the products and file with the FDA. In its financial projects, the company seeks to raise $6 million in Series A funding, $12 million in Series B funding and $25 million in a Series C funding round by 2028.  

Target Arm: Connecticut-based Target Arm pitched its device, Tular, which enables the launch and recovery of rotary and drones from any moving vehicle, autonomously. Target Arm has a contract with the Air Force. Tular can be attached to aircraft and vehicles. 

There were additional awards presented during the award ceremony, held at Sparkman Wharf. 

The Tampa-based startup Cope Notes, a mental health support service, received the People’s Choice Award. Cope Notes was founded by Johnny Crowder, who described himself as a suicide and abuse survivor. Crowder said Cope Notes is designed to fill the gap, by providing daily mental health support via text messages.

The moderators of the Startup of the Year event also informed the audience a new category was created called “breakout success.”

The winner of the category is Genesis Systems LLC, an advanced technology company that aims to solve global water scarcity by pulling water of the air. 

The startup recently relocated its HQ from Kansas City to Tampa. It plans to launch its first line of products in Tampa. 

The technology, Genesis Systems’ WaterCube system, is roughly the size of a shipping container and can be deployed anywhere. 

Its water system, running entirely on green energy and renewables, is the only technology in existence that can provide up to 10 million gallons of water per day with no access to a water source required, according to the company’s description. 

The company has plans to fabricate the WaterCube in Tampa. 

Earlier in the day, the company announced it had closed a $10 million seed round.  

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