Vacuum packaging presents many benefits over conventional storage methods. Vacuum packaging holds food and other perishables for three to five times longer than re-sealable airtight bags, such as those manufactured by ZiplocTM. In addition, vacuum packaging can eliminate freezer burn, reduce product shrinkage, and stop moisture loss and evaporation. It also has applications in long-term storage, chemical and industrial packaging, emergency medical response, and military and space items packaging.
This E-Team from the University of Central Florida developed a vacuum packaging system called ZipVac that incorporates a vacuum sealer directly into a storage bag. When a bag is sealed, the device pumps air and other gases out of the airtight bag through a pumping system at the top. Removing the gases after the bag is sealed ensures more complete gas elimination and enhances the freshness and preservation of stored perishables. The process minimizes storage volume while eliminating freezer burn, product shrinkage, and stopping moisture loss and evaporation. The E-Team was awarded a U.S. patent for their system.
Over the past six years, the University of Central Florida has expanded its technical entrepreneurship resources for students. NCIIA funding has helped to support this expansion with two course and program grants, one for the Entrepreneurship Field Project course in technology entrepreneurship and the other for the Genesis E-Teams Program coordinated by the UCF Venture Lab. The program has spawned several E-Team ventures in partnership with the UCF Solar Energy Center, UCF Stormwater Management Academy, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Florida Solar Energy Center. One team received first place in the UCF business plan competition.
Now UCF proposes to develop Pathways to Commercialization, a course to help engineering, business, and science students develop raw technical ideas into viable product concepts and build them into business propositions. In the course, multidisciplinary student teams will identify promising intellectual property through the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization. The teams will research the commercial potential of the intellectual property and develop commercialization plans. During the course, teams will attend relevant lectures and network with successful entrepreneurs, lenders, and investors.
This grant supports a new program at UCF comprised of four parts: a Technology Ventures minor; an invention competition; a new student organization; and an organized approach to mentoring. Together, these strands will establish a multifaceted, integrated technological entrepreneurship program that creates academic, institutional, and cultural bridges between UCF's College of Engineering and College of Business Administration.
The Technology Ventures minor will consist of 21 credits broken into 12 entrepreneurship credits and 9 engineering credits. Two courses will include E-Team formation and it is hoped the overall minor will produce a large number of well developed prototypes and business/commercialization plans. The invention competition will require students to demonstrate prototypes as solutions to specific problems and articulate the economic opportunity created by the invention. The new student organization, Inventing and Designing Entrepreneurs Association (IDEA), will become a primary forum for E-Teams to meet and share lessons learned across academic disciplines. Finally, the proposal offers involvement by UCF agencies in academic advising, business coaching, intellectual property issues, and workshops.
The University of Central Florida is developing Genesis, Inc., an E-Team program that focuses on launching socially responsible ventures to solve energy usage and natural resource problems. Genesis provides student teams with the resources necessary to translate innovative ideas that focus on specific environmental issues into live corporate ventures with working product prototypes meant to make a difference in saving the worlds environment. Teams are challenged to address the technological, economic, and political barriers associated with creating environmentally focused ventures.
This program expands on the success of UCF's current E-Team course and will be offered annually. The Technology Entrepreneurship Institute (TEI) and the UCF Venture Lab will work with the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Florida Solar Energy Center to identify a diverse pool of qualified engineering students. In turn, the College of Business will identify a pool of top graduate business students from a diverse array of business disciplines as potential E-Team candidates. Each team will consist of at least one engineering student and two business students. Diversity within each team will be ensured by faculty advisors.
The traditional method for resisting a flood involves filling individual bags with sand and stacking them to form a flood berm. This method is costly and slow, however, and requires large amounts of manual labor. This E-Team developed a new invention, the Flood Floatation Wall (FFW), which addresses the problems associated with traditional methods of resisting floods. The FFW is self-deploying: the user pre-positions the device at the anticipated flood level and then evacuates the area as needed. It consists of a flexible tubular flood chamber, skirts, and an air-filled flotation collar. As floodwater enters the flood chamber, it expands the chamber and activates the flotation collar, which rises to block incoming water. The FFW incorporates reasonable manufacturing costs, ease of transport, reusability and functional utility in one.