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UbiQD wins SXSW pitch competition

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — UbiQD Inc. CEO Hunter McDaniel said winning the South by Southwest Pitch competition this month in Austin for his company’s greenhouse-boosting technology has immensely raised company visibility.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” McDaniel said. “I have investors coming at me left and right. It’s hard to over emphasize how big SXSW is.”

The Pitch competition is the marquee entrepreneurship and startup track event at the annual SXSW conference. UbiQD Inc. was one of 50 companies selected to pitch from a record-setting 800-plus that applied worldwide.

Companies competed in 10 different categories in front of about 500 people and a panel of judges. UbiQD, which McDaniel launched in 2014 in Los Alamos, won in the Hyper-Connected Communities category for its red-light emitting window film for greenhouses.

The company says the film can boost crop yields by 10 percent or more by using quantum dots that shift sunshine into a red-light-emitting spectrum that mimics late-summer sun year-round. That’s considered the most potent time of year for plants because they sense winter coming and grow faster.

The company uses a low-cost, low-toxic process for making quantum dots, which are tiny, three-dimensional structures that manipulate light in unique ways.

UbiQD began selling its quantum-dot-coated “UbiGrow” film to greenhouses last year as a simple retrofit that attaches to the underside of windows. It’s now installed at commercial operations in four states and in Spain.

The company also set up a new greenhouse trial this month in the Netherlands, plus a pilot project for cucumbers in northern New Mexico.

UbiGro is the company’s first commercial product. It’s also developing photovoltaic window coatings to generate electricity for buildings.

To date, the company has received about $5.7 million in grants and private investment. It’s now raising its first institutional, ‘Series A’ venture investment, targeting about $6 million that it hopes to close on this summer.

Publicity from SXSW could strengthen those efforts.

“It really got people talking,” McDaniel said. “I’m getting pinged now by venture investors almost daily as a result.”

Raising visibility, market access and funding opportunities for startups are primary goals, said SXSW Pitch event producer Chris Valentine.

“It’s kind of a global platform for startups,” Valentine told the Journal. “It’s an opportunity to get in front of a global audience.”

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