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Dr. Saurabh Biswas and Bryton Praslicka holding a large first-place check for $35,000 from the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition. Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and Texas A&M University Innovation Partners logos are at the bottom of the check.
Dr. Saurabh Biswas, executive director for commercialization and entrepreneurship at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, presents Bryton Praslicka, president and CEO of FluxWorks, with the first-place check for the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

FluxWorks, a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears and magnetic gear-integrated motors, took the grand prize and more at the eighth annual Texas A&M New Ventures Competition (TNVC). The annual event, hosted by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M University Innovation Partners, recognizes some of the most innovative startups in Texas.

Bryton Praslicka, president and CEO of FluxWorks, competed with other startups throughout Texas at TNVC to win the $35,000 first-place prize and several other sponsored prizes for its magnetic gear technology, which has improved reliability and reduced maintenance costs compared to its counterpart, the mechanical gear.

Magnetic gears are like mechanical gears — they change high-speed, low-torque rotation to high-torque, low-speed rotation. Gears are useful because they help reduce the size, weight and capital expense of many motor-generator systems. But magnetic gears are contactless, so they don't need lubrication, which has the potential to eliminate the major issues associated with mechanical gears, such as frequent maintenance and reliability issues. They may also significantly reduce the risk of failure in the event of an overload.

Praslicka said they the company has already received interest in its magnetic gears from commercial and military delivery drone manufacturers, air taxi startups, wind turbine manufacturers, space robotics companies and NASA, as well as surgical robotic actuator companies, all interested in the benefits of magnetic gears. So, the impact of their new technology could be huge.

The prize pool for this year’s competition was more than $475,000 in cash and in-kind services. In all, $2,860,000 in prizes have been given out during the eight years of the competition, and Praslicka was excited to be the latest grand prize winner. Additionally, the startup won the Aggieland Business Park/Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation Launch Prize, the Knobbe Martens Prize, the Versa Business Partners Prize and the Stibbs & Co. Prize. But the competition is important for startup companies like FluxWorks well beyond the cash prizes.

“Having incorporated just six months ago, being at the competition and experiencing this momentum is incredible,” Praslicka said. “In fact, the team wants to keep the growth organic and sustainable, so while at the competition, we were focusing on seeking more business leadership and building our advisory board to be sure we make the right steps at the right pace. Winning the competition felt like it validated the hard work we have put in so far and gives us the energy to keep going even when times are hard. This has already led to so many connections, which is helping us build our business team. The funds and partnership are helping stimulate our organic, sustainable growth.”

Aimed at promoting the commercialization of emerging technology, TNVC recognizes companies with high-growth potential like FluxWorks and helps them effectively execute their ideas and advance product development.

“TNVC provides a great return for its stakeholders here at Texas A&M as well as its participants,” said Chris Scotti, TNVC chair and director of New Ventures, Texas A&M University Innovation Partners. “Sure, science- and engineering-based companies from across the state of Texas get an opportunity to compete for high-value prizes, but even more importantly, they get exposure to resources and make connections that act as a springboard for their technologies’ journey to market.”

For Texas A&M specifically, he said TNVC also is a friendly opportunity for spinout and alumni-led companies to test their mettle against their peers and for the entire Texas A&M University System to showcase its offerings, such as TEES- and Texas A&M health-sponsored research.

“This couldn’t be more evident with this year’s winner being a Texas A&M Engineering spinout,” Scotti said. “One of the things about FluxWorks that stood out to the judges this year was doctoral candidate Bryton Praslicka’s charismatic yet humble approach — demonstrating that he had the technical chops while asking the well-connected audience to help him in his search for business-savvy leadership. They are now at the top of an already elite group of Texas businesses with groundbreaking technologies — we look forward to watching FluxWorks and all the TNVC 2022 competitors progress over the coming years.”

Visit here for more information on FluxWorks and a full list of the TNVC winners.