UAVenture Capital and DVI Equity Partners Announce Spin-off: Freefall 5G
Marwan Krunz speaks addresses questions at campus talk about FreeFall. Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona
UAVenture Capital (UAVC), the Tucson-based firm that invests exclusively into University of Arizona science and technology, and DVI Equity Partners (the Technology investment arm of Tucson’s Diamond Ventures) today announced that two of their portfolio companies, Freefall Aerospace and ED2, have come together to create Freefall 5G, a new company focused on capitalizing on the explosive growth of the 5G market.
Freefall Aerospace, a University of Arizona startup launched with the support of Tech Launch Arizona to commercialize revolutionary antenna systems, was one of UAVC’s first investments in 2018 and has rapidly developed several satellite communication systems designed to revolutionize communications from space and near space. Freefall has demonstrated an ultra-lightweight inflatable satellite antenna, steerable balloon-borne communications, and fixed and mobile ground-based systems. UAVC’s investment thesis believed many of Freefall’s patented designs could also be leveraged create new antenna systems for the 5G cellular space.
“This new company has the potential to be a tremendous success, particularly as the importance of 5G technology grows,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I am very proud to see this kind of partnership grow out of innovative thinking from the University of Arizona, and I am grateful to UAVenture Capital for their leadership in making sure this outstanding technology will be available to the public. I am looking forward to seeing what Freefall 5G will accomplish.”
ED2, which is focused on “Making 5G HappenTM”, was DVI Equity Partners’ first Tucson-based investment. It was ED2’s actualization of the FreeFall Aerospace antenna that led to the demonstrable proof-of-concept unveiled at 5G World last year and will lead the development of the working prototype expected to be tested late this summer. The new FreeStar5G antenna will have greater range and flexibility than any 5G antenna system currently on the market yet is about the size of a desktop computer and draws significantly less power.
“We believe this small and powerful antenna will revolutionize 5G cellular transmission,” said Fletcher
McCusker, CEO and founder of UAVenture Capital. Dr. Chris Walker and Dr. Marwan Krunz, who in addition to their work at FreeFall are both professors at UArizona, presented the original theory for the technology to ED2 in 2018, with the goal of commercializing the idea. Under ED2’s leadership the two companies were able bring the proof-of-concept to market.
Walker holds appointments in the Steward Observatory, the College of Science, the James C. Waynt College of Optical Sciences and the College of Engineering. Krunz is a professor of computer science in the College of Engineering.
“Based on what we all felt was a game-changing technology for 5G, it made sense to form a spin-off to operationalize the antenna,” said Managing Partner at DV Equity Partners Bob Griffin.
“We always knew that by working closely with the exceptional technical team from ED2, we could go farther and faster than we could on our own,” said Doug Stetson, CEO of FreeFall Aerospace. “Fielding an improved, industry-ready FreeStar5G that provides state-of-the-art capability will help achieve our vision of revolutionary connectivity for people, places, and things through our novel antenna solutions. The new product development and license agreements now in place with ED2 position FreeFall 5G as a key player in shaping and transforming the global 5G race.”
Sergio Cardona, CEO of ED2, noted how this continues to not only elevate the company, the technology, the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson: “It’s amazing that two small companies from Tucson, Arizona, can transform the way 5G communication gets rolled out and by default make us a 5G technology region.”
About FreeFall Aerospace:
FreeFall is developing revolutionary new antenna technology for ground, air, and space. Their innovative spherical antennas are drawing interest from a wide variety of commercial and government organizations, offering wide field of view, electronic steering, and low mass to dramatically simplify and improve satellite communications. The company’s unique antennas for the coming 5G wireless world, now transitioned to FreeFall 5G, are unlike anything else on the market and enable high-frequency, steerable communications for Smart Cities, connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things. FreeFall was founded in Tucson as a spin-off from the University of Arizona and maintains a close connection with UA faculty and supporters. FreeFall Aerospace was named as "Innovator of the Year – Start-Up Company" during the 16th annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards presented in Phoenix Arizona by the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority. The Innovation category is awarded to a company that has achieved “significant success, technical innovation or scientific achievement in the past calendar year.” http;//www.freefall5G.com
ED2 Corp was founded in 2007 and focused on marine radio wireless applications and R&D Solutions. The company strong history of innovative solutions for alert wireless systems using state-of-the-art sensors. In 2018, the company was purchased by Sergio Cardona, CEO, and shifted focus to next-generation wireless products. ED2 has built up an elite team and can solve engineering challenges that others find too challenging. The team has extensive expertise in RF radio, radar, software, and wireless systems; and holds numerous patents in RF technology. http://www.ed2corp.com/
Formed in 2017 to invest exclusively in University of Arizona led technology, products and science, UA Venture Capital (UAVC) is an early stage investment fund designed to advance and commercialize U of A led inventions. UAVC and the U of A partner with faculty, students and alumni to bring to market new technologies that will advance communication, science, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, sustainability, software and engineering industries. Founder Fletcher McCusker is a U of A graduate, alumnus of the year and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2015. Michael Deitch and Fletcher McCusker were the CEO and CFO team that led the privatization of SinfoniaRx, one of the first companies launched by Tech Launch Arizona. http://www.uaventurecap.com/
DVI Equity Partners LLC (DVI) was founded in spring of 2018 with a singular mission of investing in early stage, emerging technology companies specializing in disruptive technology with an emphasis on companies founded and led by women and minorities. The firm evaluates emerging technology companies that create business-to-business (B2B) value in areas including national security, enterprise software, artificial intelligence, and data storage and analysis. Visit dviequitypartners.com for additional information. http://www.dviequitypartners.com/
About Tech Launch Arizona at University of Arizona:
Tech Launch Arizona is the office of the University of Arizona that creates social and economic impact through commercializing inventions stemming from UA research. The office builds connections between talented UArizona faculty, researchers and staff and experienced entrepreneurs and investors, all strategically linked to create an ecosystem that refines ideas that start in the lab and grows them into new products and thriving businesses that benefit society. http://techlaunch.arizona.edu/