Blog Post

Widetronix Wins DFJ Competition, $250K

According to enthusiastic blog reports (here and here), startup Widetronix, maker of silicon-carbide based wafers for electronics, just won the Draper Fisher Jurvetson East Coast Venture Challenge, which will see it be awarded $250,000 in seed money from the venture firm.

Widetronix is using technology from Cornell University to develop a new manufacturing process for silicon-carbide wafers that can be used in electronic devices. According to the company’s web site, it plans to make both the wafers for electronic devices as well as the power conversion electronic devices themselves, which could be used in applications like hybrid cars (for the converters and motor drives) and other power systems.

According to a live blog report from the competition, Widetronix wants to target the pacemaker battery market, and is developing a power system for a pacemaker that lasts 25 years. But the problem with the health care market is that this kind of device would take several years to get FDA approval, so Widetronix is focusing on other markets like defense and security first.

The company has had a strong relationship with the defense industry; it has received funding from both the Department of Defense and the Navy. Widetronix says on its web site that it’s working with Northrop Grumman and General Atomics for naval applications, and has already started shipping prototypes. This PDF lays out all the applications in which the DoD is interested.

To qualify for Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s business competition, startups had to hail from East Coast Ivy League schools, consist largely of students, and be devoid of any significant venture capital funding. Widetronix is based in Ithaca, N.Y., and is made up of founders Michael Spencer, Lester Eastman and Yuri Makarov, and CEO Jonathan Greene.

Draper Fisher is a big proponent of business plan competitions. It was a sponsor of the California Cleantech Open, so it’s interesting to see them run their own. Check out our video interview with Draper Fisher Jurvetson partner Steve Jurvetson.