George Mason University’s inaugural Accelerate 2022 conference attracted 300 attendees and awarded cash prizes to pitch competition winners and finalists.
Accelerate 2022, held on Mason’s Arlington Campus on Oct. 19-20, focused on showcasing up-and-coming startups throughout the greater Washington, D.C., region. Four panels explored trends in investment and future technology development, with an overlay of global policy and national health, security, and infrastructure needs.
The pitch competition drew attendees from across the country and received applications from startups offering solutions in biohealth, software and sustainability. Winners were awarded cash prizes at a gala featuring keynote speakers Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications and a Mason alum, and Bobby Franklin, president of the National Venture Capital Association.
The pitch winners are:
- Cyber winner, sponsored by 22nd Century: Blue Vigil of Herndon, Virginia, $10,000
- Software winner, sponsored by Maan Ventures: Humanitru of Richmond, Virginia, $10,000
In addition, the Cameron Rian Hays “Out of the Box” competition, which focused on Smart Cities technologies, had student teams from six universities competing. The competition is named for Mason alum Cameron Rian Hays, BA Sociology and Anthropology ’03 and MPP ’11. When Hays passed away unexpectedly in 2011, the family sought a way to honor his memory and created the competition.
First prize and $5,000 went to Neal Singal and his team at Georgetown University for Globally Unified Air Quality, a low-cost air quality monitor. See more about his team’s project here.
Second place and $2,000 went to Mason systems engineering major Mahati Malladi and her team for Optimus. The team has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) decision algorithm to support the process of optimizing storage and staffing for autonomous and unmanned aerial vehicles in commercial and military industries. See their presentation here.
Third place and $1,000 went to Mason systems engineering major Reed Lawrence and his team for Aircraft Predictive Maintenance. They are machine learning algorithms, in conjunction with digital twins, to develop predictive maintenance plans for facilities and transportation systems that could save companies millions of dollars. See their presentation here.
“Despite the shadow of the 18 months of pandemic, investors, companies, and corporations were eager to engage, discuss financial opportunities, and generally enjoy each other’s company,” said conference organizer Paula Sorrell, Mason’s associate vice president of innovation and economic development. “We’re thrilled to see the response in the ecosystem and can’t wait to build on this year’s success.”
“Accelerate 2022 was the right entrepreneurship conference at the right time,” said Sean Mallon, vice president of commercialization at the Center for Innovative Technology, Virginia’s state-sponsored entrepreneurial support organization. “It brought together founders, investors, economic development leaders and other stakeholders, allowing entrepreneurial magic to happen at the tail end of a long COVID-19-driven hiatus.”
Accelerate 2022 was designed to fuel innovation-based business growth by showcasing the best and brightest new tech startups to potential investors to foster their development within the Washington, D.C, metropolitan area, while shining a spotlight on the region for innovation and investment potential. In addition to Mason, sponsors included Arlington Economic Development, Belcan, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Gryphon Technologies, and Pangiam.
Accelerate 2023 in planned for Nov. 2-3, 2022.