USF startups make their pitches at entrepreneurs summit

By Erin Maloney, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, January 19, 2015

Dozens of startup companies competed for a shot at investor money and top honors last week at a summit in Tampa.

Sixty entrepreneurs pitched their ideas at the Access to Capital Summit in Tampa. The winner of the contest received $5,000 and, more importantly, exposure to investors.

The grand prize winner at the the summit was Scrap on the Spot, a Tampa-based electronic recycling company that specializes in protecting data and repurposing working electronics.

The University of South Florida had a big presence at the summit, with two of the contest's finalists coming from the university's entrepreneurship program

USF professor Luther Palmer was among those who received a platform for his big idea at the summit. Palmer's creation is a six-legged robot that he says could one day change the way first responders conduct search-and-rescue operations and maybe even help soldiers detect bombs in war zones.

"You can put a camera, flashlight, some sort of sensor for biohazardous materials," said Palmer, whose startup LuBotics, LLC, developed the the robot. "Really, it's just a platform for a number of things."

Not all of the ideas presented at the summit were as futuristic and flashy. The other project that originated at USF is a simple one but it's one that could change lives.

Stuart Pinnock of Life Enabling Technologies said his company's invention - a built-in tray table for people in wheelchairs - will be on the market within a month. He also created a tool that allows them to get their own backpacks from the back of their wheelchairs.

"This grants them some independence," he said.

The two entrepreneurs have different ideas but one common goal: to get their products on the market and launch their businesses.

The summit was put together by the Hillsborough County Department of Economic Development and New World Angels.