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Members of FluxWorks holding a check for $350,000 with members of Goose Capital and the Rice Business Plan Competition.
FluxWorks received $350,000 as the overall winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition. | Image: Courtesy of the Rice Business Plan Competition

A team from Texas A&M University won the grand prize at the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) this past weekend, as well as the elevator pitch competition for their startup, FluxWorks. Dr. Bryton Praslicka ‘19, former electrical engineering student and chief executive officer of FluxWorks, and Mary Beth Graham, educational human resource development master’s student and chief strategy officer of FluxWorks, received $350,000 for the overall prize and another $10,000 from the elevator pitch competition. Other final teams in the running for the grand prize included Rice University, Brigham Young University, Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

The RBPC is hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. According to the competition’s website, it is “the world's largest and richest student-led competition,” with more than $3.5 million in investments and cash prizes announced in the 2023 competition. This international event attracts student startups from all around the world for its rich network of industry leaders, investors and mentors. The competition serves as an opportunity for innovative startups to pitch their unique ideas for a chance to win big.  

FluxWorks is a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears and magnetic gear-integrated motors. Its innovative technology has transformed the industry by offering improved reliability and reduced maintenance costs compared to traditional mechanical gears. Magnetic gears, akin to their mechanical counterparts, according to FluxWorks, “excel in converting high-speed, low-torque rotation to high-torque, low-speed rotation.”

Gears have been revered for their ability to reduce the size, weight and capital expenses of motor-generator systems. However, FluxWorks' magnetic gears hold a distinct advantage, as they operate without physical contact, eliminating the need for lubrication. This breakthrough not only minimizes the associated maintenance requirements, but also addresses reliability issues often encountered with mechanical gears. Moreover, magnetic gears possess a remarkable ability to withstand overloads, significantly reducing the risk of failure.

The magnetic gears developed by FluxWorks represent a quiet, robust and premium solution. Praslicka and Graham’s gears boast an impressive 99% efficiency while being four times quieter than their mechanical counterparts. With their exceptional reliability, these magnetic gears find applications in a multitude of settings, such as outer space exploration, underwater operations and even the human body.

From left, Jim Donnell, Dr. Bryton Praslicka and Mary Beth Graham
Jim Donnell (left), director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, has mentored Dr. Bryton Praslicka ‘19 (middle) and Mary Beth Graham (right) for several years during their journey with FluxWorks. | Image: Courtesy of Chris Westfall

“Participating in this opportunity has been great for our business and has been encouraging to our team to see all of our work come to fruition,” said Praslicka. “We genuinely did our best, and we’re excited about the new relationships we developed from this new experience. At the end of the day, we left everything on the stage. The Flux family, Texas A&M, Jim Donnell, Chris Westfall, Sheikh Ismail and the rest of our mentors have all worked with us since the beginning and have been influential in this journey.”

FluxWorks prides itself in being driven by a strong commitment to the community, national security, sustainability, employees and the individuals they impact daily. In an era where technological advancements shape the way we live and work, FluxWorks' magnetic gears have the potential to revolutionize the industry and have set a new standard for reliability, efficiency and environmental sustainability. With FluxWorks at the forefront of magnetic gear innovation, the possibilities for improved performance and enhanced quality of life are limitless.

“Members of FluxWorks have taken Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (EEP) classes, and the EEP team has provided mentoring, coaching and resources in support of FluxWorks over the past several years,” said Jim Donnell ‘82, director of EEP. “Praslicka and Graham competed against the best of the best. They explained their technologies and their business model in the most convincing manner. They were tremendous ambassadors for Texas A&M. The entrepreneurship ecosystem from Aggieland was on full display this past weekend, and that caught some by surprise. This victory positions FluxWorks for tremendous success, as the resources from the competition, both financial and relational, will be critical during the next phases of product development.”

Praslicka also participated in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps Site) in the fall of 2017 and his team was accepted into the National Innovation Network Teams Program.

"Eight years ago, I met Rodney Boehm and it all began," said Praslicka. "Year after year the professors and programs helped frame my thinking and in the end, EEP supported us through pitch coaching and one-on-one CEO mentorship. Seek mentorship from a variety of people. No answer is perfect, and the more advice you get you will start to find advice that makes sense for you."

If you are interested in participating in the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program at Texas A&M, visit its website.