Picasolar's 2013 successful run in national business-plan competitions is reminiscent of past University of Arkansas startups.
Here's a look at five teams formed over the past five years in the entrepreneurship program at the UA's Walton Business College that are becoming viable businesses: Movista, cycleWood Solutions, Boston Mountain Biotech, Silicon Solar Solutions and BiologicsMD.
Movista signed its first national client, Tempur-Pedic, in 2012 and now has eight national clients on board. Its forecasted revenue growth has increased 10 fold from last year. Starting with co-founders April Seggebrush and Stan Zylowski, Movista now employs 22 and has expanded beyond retail to other sectors with opportunities for more expansion in service, education, energy and food service.
CycleWood completed its first biodegradable bag in April and has developed an injection molded cup with 50 percent lignin content. With more than half a million dollars raised, it will be hiring beyond its two full-time employees soon.
Boston Mountain Biotech is on a fast track for growth as well. With more than $300,000 in private capital, it has received $50,000 in grants and awaits word on a $1.2 million National Institutes of Health grant. It recently secured its first customer and expects to see several million in sales this year. With two full-time and six, part-time volunteer employees, BMB expects to begin hiring soon.
Former UA startups such as Silicon Solar Solutions and BiologicsMD are on the cusp of major breakthroughs in their fields.
Silicon, in partnership with Picasolar, developed a self-aligned hydrogenated selective emitter for N-type solar cells that can increase efficiency by as much as 15 percent. Shumate, the inventor of the technology, is a member of both teams. Silicon received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the technology. Silicon CEO Douglas Hutchings called the emitter the biggest solar advancement in almost 40 years.
BiologicsMD won more than $600,000 in cash during its 2010 business-plan competition run, and currently is preparing for Phase 1 trials of its PTH-CBD product for osteoporosis treatment. PTH-CBD binds to the bone and spurs new bone growth. The Department of Defense thought enough of the firm's innovative approach, it awarded Biologics a $2.3 million research contract in 2011.