Jim Donnell, the director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program, has been mentoring Brighton Plaslikka ’19 PhD and Mary Beth Graham in their work with FluxWorks for several years. Recently, a team from Texas A&M University won the Grand Prix at the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) and also won the pitch competition for their startup, FluxWorks, thanks in part to the mentoring of Donnell.
Dr. Brighton Praslicka ’19, former electrical engineering student and Fluxworks Chief Executive Officer, and Mary Beth Graham, Fluxworks Master of Education and Human Resource Development student and Chief Strategy Officer, won overall awards of $350,000 plus an additional $10,000 from an elevator pitch contest. The competition was sponsored by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and included final teams from Rice University, Brigham Young University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University.
RBPC is known as the “world’s largest and richest student-led competition,” with more than $3.5 million in investment and prizes available for the 2023 competition. This international event is a platform for student startups from around the world to pitch their unique ideas and win big, while also connecting with industry leaders, investors and mentors.
FluxWorks is a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears and magnetic gear integrated motors, which have revolutionized the industry by offering increased reliability and reduced maintenance costs compared to traditional mechanical gears. Unlike mechanical gears, magnetic gears operate without physical contact and require no lubrication, which minimizes maintenance requirements and improves reliability. In addition, magnetic gears have an excellent ability to withstand overloads, which greatly reduces the risk of failure.
Praslicka and Graham’s magnetic gears boast a 99% efficiency and are four times quieter than mechanical gears. Due to their outstanding reliability, these magnetic gears find applications in various environments such as space exploration, underwater work, and even the human body. Overall, FluxWorks is the winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition, receiving $350,000 in recognition of their innovative contribution to the industry.