Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center
Beating out eleven other startup companies, and despite tough competition, SAS Nanotechnologies cruised into the no. 1 position to win the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition—now in its 6th year and with a Grand Prize totaling over $16,000 in cash and services.
SAS Nanotechnologies won this year’s award with their proprietary, patent pending anticorrosive coating technology that not only prevents corrosion but also heals and protects metals from corrosion in the case of surface scratch or damage. Founded by Sumedh Surwade, and growing out of his PhD research, the technology was recently awarded an NSF SBIR grant to further develop the technology. Dr. Surwade is already in conversations with potential strategic partners for technology testing and licensing and is considering additional routes to market, including manufacturing in Delaware. Dr. Surwade plans on using his winnings to purchase testing equipment that will speed up product commercialization by reducing the time and cost of testing from 10 days to 3 hours.
For the second time this year, the Emerging Enterprise Center, Delaware’s first small business incubator located at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, partnered with New Castle County Government, as well as multiple sponsors, to offer the prize package which included:
- Cash prize of $10,000 from the New Castle County NCC Innovates Program
- $2,000 business startup and bookkeeping package from SC Associates
- $1,400 in IT services from Info Solutions
- 6 month membership in the Emerging Enterprise Center Virtual Incubation Program (valued at $1,800)
- New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Package (valued at $1,400)
- One year membership in World Trade Center Delaware (valued at $395)
- One year membership in New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (valued at $350)
Each applicant was judged based on a combined score of both their written application and oral pitch. Judging criteria included business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and soft skills. Three finalists were then selected to pitch before a live audience and a new panel of judges at the Emerging Enterprise Center Luncheon which was held at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. The three finalists included SAS Nanotechnologies, D150 Fueling and Smart Kidz Club.
The Grand Prize winner was selected based on a combined judge/audience vote (85%/15%). The judges included former Swim with the Sharks winner Amira Idris (Thera-V), Dr. Daniel Young (Goldey Beacom College), Sam Waltz (Strategic Capital & Business Counsel) and Dr. Janet Reed (Potter Anderson Corroon, LLP).