May 31, 2018
David Smith is an entrepreneurial leader. And the WVU College of Business and Economics MBA student is making a lot of noise in the automotive industry, so much noise, that two federal agencies are taking notice.
Smith recently pitched a new technology – a wireless electric power system potentially adaptable to charging phone, computer, drone and electric car batteries – at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2018 Allegheny Cleantech University Prize Collegiate Competition, which is held annually during Carnegie Mellon University’s Energy Week. Smith is the first WVU student to participate in a regional CUP event, which provides the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs the opportunity to secure funding and educational support for commercializing their innovations.
Steve Cutright, the director of B&E’s BrickStreet Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, cultivated a relationship between WVU and Square Line Power, the company that sought help to define industries in which they could place their products, such as this inductive transmission technology. And now Smith serves as the intermediary between WVU and Square Line Power and is taking their technologies to a new level.
The U.S. Department of Defense was also impressed by Smith’s presentation and working prototype at the regional CUP event. In turn, the DoD has invited him to pitch the technology at DOE’s National Cleantech University Prize Competition at Rice University in Houston, June 27-28.
“Being recognized by the DoD and invited to pitch Square Line Power’s prototype at the National Cleantech University Prize Competition is an excellent opportunity,” Smith said. “Learning to develop a startup company and pitching a new technology are invaluable experiences.”
In announcing the selection, DoD representative Paul Jaffe said further development of Square Line’s prototype could potentially allow soldiers to recharge equipment and drones without bulky power cables that are prone to failure.
After Smith and WVU provided recommendations for Square Line, the company has committed to relocating from Alabama to West Virginia so that it is closer to WVU. While West Virginia continues to look to attract new business opportunities to the state, WVU’s experiential learning curriculum is developing executive-level leadership to its MBA candidates that are assisting businesses in relocation and formation in West Virginia — and students are foremost in this business equation.
One of Square Line’s three partners holds a patent on inductive transmission circuitry for wireless lighting fixtures. Smith is working with Square Line Power to develop a business model for moving the technology forward.