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University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup Business & Innovation Showcase Leads to $1.5M Investment for Local Startup

Jul 01, 2013
Entrepreneurial Spirit

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Cupid's Cup Business & Innovation Showcase

College Park, Md. – July 1, 2013 – Astrapi Corporation, whose patented signal modulation technology will revolutionize the mobile communications industry, has closed a seed round totaling $1.5 million led by Dingman Center Angel investor, Bill Boyle. The funding will be used to develop a commercially viable product for deployment with initial customers.

Boyle recognized the disruptive technology through a chance meeting at the April 2013 University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup Business and Innovation Showcase hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The showcase featured campus and regional startups, including Astrapi, and was attended by the regional entrepreneurship and investor community.

“I was in the fiber services industry for the last 20 years and while walking around the Cupid’s Cup showcase I noticed a telecommunications startup,” said Boyle. “Astrapi claimed their technology could transmit dramatically more information than can be currently transmitted by using a different type of wireless signal based on spirals rather than the traditional circles. I was immediately drawn in and I quickly came to the conclusion that this technology is a game changer in an area that needs one.”

Astrapi’s spiral-based signal modulation improves spectral efficiency compared to the current industry standard by providing new ways to transmit information. These improvements alter how telecommunication networks send and receive signals, increasing the value of spectrum, and enabling operators to meet exploding demand more economically. The initial target markets are wireless mobile backhaul providers and satellite enterprise networks due to their constrained signal power, high data throughput requirements, and limited standards applicability.

On June 25, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued Astrapi’s first patent, entitled "Telecommunications signaling using nonlinear functions." The patent is credited to inventor, Jerrold Prothero, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Astrapi, and covers the broad concept of using complex spirals for signal modulation in telecommunications.

“Our technology is based on showing for the first time how to effectively use bandlimited, non-periodic waveforms as the basis of communication,” said Prothero. "This allows us to do things that were previously thought to be impossible, by extending the mathematics and engineering principles that underlie telecommunications.”

Connections like the one between Astrapi and Boyle are exactly what the Dingman Center hopes to achieve through Cupid’s Cup. This signature event is sponsored by Under Armour founder and CEO, Kevin Plank and has evolved from a campus competition awarding only UMD student startups to a national one. The national expansion has allowed the Dingman Center to increase the number exhibitors, which this year included Astrapi Corporation.

“The genesis of this deal illustrates the depth and breadth of our network,” said Elana Fine, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “This connection between Bill Boyle and Astrapi is a perfect example of the Dingman community at work. Because of our expansion we are pulling in technologies and startups from across campus and throughout the region so I think we’ll continue to have success stories like this one.”

Boyle, a UMD alumnus, is founder and former president of Fibergate, a Washington, D.C. metro area provider of fiber-optic communication services. He is a member of the Dingman Center Angels, one of the area’s most active networks that connects startups seeking seed and early-stage funding with angel investors.

Boyle, and his fellow Astrapi investor, recently completed a successful exit from Fibergate and are both helping to guide Astrapi to a successful product launch. Currently, Astrapi is in commercialization talks with its first customer.

"We believe this technology will change the communications landscape forever and we look forward to its rapid deployment,” said Boyle.

Astrapi is a member of Mtech’s TAP Incubator located on the UMD campus. TAP offers furnished offices and flexible lab space as well as a multitude of other benefits and services.

About Astrapi Corporation
Astrapi is a spiral-based signal modulation company with patented IP. By applying new mathematics to signal modulation, Astrapi is able to improve the trade-off between the four fundamental parameters in telecommunication: bandwidth, signal power, data throughput, and error rate. Based on foundational work by its founder, Dr. Jerold Prothero, the company's patented Compound Channel Coding™ (cCc™) technology allows for dramatic improvements in communication performance by smoothly integrating periodic and exponential signal parameters. For network owners, operators and end-users, the resulting efficiency translates into higher spectral performance with more bits available at a lower cost.

About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center is one of the nation’s pre-eminent institutions where the research, education and practice of entrepreneurship are pursued vigorously. We develop and execute curricular and non-curricular programs that uniquely leverage Smith School thought leadership, experiential learning and our network of practitioners to provide resources to startup businesses. Every initiative is designed to support the Center’s mission to build a community, operating from the Smith School that discovers, equips, connects and celebrates entrepreneurs.

About Mtech
The mission of Mtech is to educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, create successful technology ventures, and connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. Founded in 1983, Mtech has had a $29.4 billion impact on the Maryland economy and helped create or retain more than 7,800 jobs. Billion dollar companies such as Martek Biosciences and Digene Corporation graduated from our incubator. Mtech offers three experiential learning programs and 18 entrepreneurship and innovation courses, served to 1,003 enrollees in the academic year 2011-12, at the pre-college, undergraduate and graduate levels.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.