LiquidPiston wins NOVUS Unmanned startup pitch competition
LiquidPiston, a company that has designed a revolutionary new rotary engine, took home the top prize at AUVSI’s NOVUS Unmanned conference and competition in San Francisco.
Ten companies vied for the top spot and seed funding at the conference, which was cosponsored by Investorfest, a company that coaches startups to help them get funding. They outlined their business plans and early successes before the judges picked a winner.
LiquidPiston will go home with $50,000 worth of prizes, including a presence at upcoming AUVSI shows and conferences and coaching from Investorfest.
Alex Shkolnik, CEO for the Connecticut-based company, said its engine is the product of a decade of research and development and has already lined up $9 million in military contracts. The company is seeking an additional $8 million in Series A funding to “take us to positive cash flow,” as Shkolnik said in his presentation.
The company’s engine has only two moving parts, and corrects many of the problem of previous rotary engines, such as the Wankel rotary power plants used on the Textron Systems Shadow, he said.
“We took the Wankel engine and turned it inside out,” he said. “We haven’t seen a new engine like this in 80 years.”
LiquidPiston doesn’t plan on becoming an engine manufacturer in its own right, but wants to partner with other companies to design engines for them, and license the technology. And, while the unmanned systems world is a good first step for the company, Shkolnik said the company’s designs could go anywhere that engines are required.
Below: LiquidPiston CEO Alex Shkolnik accepts his company's award from AUVSI Executive Vice President Heather Lee. Photo: AUVSI