UA Start-Up Companies Prep for July 12 Launchpad Presentations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Cell phones that charge wirelessly, orthopedic implants that safely degrade inside the body, and a social network designed to connect those in the construction industry: these are the central concepts behind three University of Alabama start-up companies competing July 12 in a statewide business competition.

Judges will listen to pitch presentations from these three UA businesses and seven other entrepreneurial companies during the next round of the 2013 Alabama Launchpad Start-Up Competition to be held in Birmingham.

The ongoing event, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, began with 27 start-ups competing. A five-judge panel selected 10 teams in June to continue.

The teams, competing for up to $100,000 in prize money, are in the “proof of concept” phase. The competition, in its seventh year, is geared to promote, reward and increase the pipeline growth of high-growth innovative ventures that have the potential to create and keep jobs in Alabama.

The three UA teams selected to advance are:

Bidsters – Competing in the Internet and web services category, Bidsters features an online interactive database in which construction industry businesses can display information to connect and communicate with others in the industry.

The team is led by Ben Bickerstaff, a senior, civil engineering major at UA from Anniston.

e-Electricity – Competing in the telecommunications category, e-Electricity is developing wireless harvesting, allowing mobile devices to recharge wirelessly, eliminating the need for an electrical outlet.

Dr. Jaber Abu-Qahouq, UA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Whitney Hough, venture development associate with UA’s Office for Technology Transfer; and Will Sanders, a UA senior marketing major, from Mobile, are members of the team led by Sloan McCrary, a UA Master of Business Administration student from Alpharetta, Ga.

Surface Integrity LLC – Competing in the medical devices and equipment category, Surface Integrity LLC is a research and development company developing custom surfaces for a wide variety of industries and applications, including controlling the surface of degradable metal implants by surface treatments.

Dr. Yuebin Guo, UA professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Ying Qin, research associate in UA’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center; and Dr. Dan Daly, director of UA’s  Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center, are the UA-affiliated members of the team led by Michael Sealy, a UA mechanical engineering doctoral student from Florence. Other team members include Drs. Raymond Thompson and Dale Feldman.

The competition continues into the fall, when a Sept. 26 finale will coincide with the third annual Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham set for Sept. 26-27.


Chris Bryant, UA media relations, 205/348-8323,; Adam Jones, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444,; Val Walton, communications director, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, 205/943-4715,