Boca Raton drone-security company wins $50,000 venture showcase prize

On the left: Rex G. Ciavola Jr., co-founder and president of EagleEye Intelligence On the right: Scott H. Adams, co-founder and CEO of EagleEye – Original Credit: EagleEye Intelligence – Original Source: courtesy (EagleEye Intelligence / Courtesy)

A Boca Raton company that’s developing technology to make drones more useful to rescuers and police has been named one of the winners in Florida Venture Forum’s 2016 VentureTech Showcase.

EagleEye Intelligence was runner-up in the Nov. 1 competition, winning $50,000. The company competed with 14 finalists that were chosen from a field of nearly 90.

The first-place winner is headquartered outside South Florida: Naples-based Catalyst Orthoscience, a medical device company that has developed a new “more natural” shoulder replacement procedure that results in less stretching of the muscles and ligaments while the implant is placed. The company won $100,000.

EagleEye stood out because it is addressing the “potentially explosive industry” of security while Catalyst Orthoscience has had the “tenacity” to wade through regulatory approvals for its implants, said Tim Cartwright, who is chairman of Tamiami Angel Fund in Naples and served as chair of the VentureTech showcase committee.

“These are two great companies that are located in the state of Florida. It’s hard to say which one is going to win their market. I think both of them was going to do fantastic,” he said.

EagleEye was co-founded by entrepreneur Scott Adams. EagleEye has developed customized technology that it retrofits into drones for search and rescue operations on land and water, as well as for other applications, Adams said.

The technology enables drone operators to communicate with rescuers — a capability that can also be helpful in other law enforcement applications.

“You may have a bunch of emergency responders converging on a scene and everyone has to talk with each other,” Adams said. “We want the pilot [of the drone] to communicate with responders on the ground.”

The company is also preparing to launch an indoor drone product that he said could be helpful in shooter situations, such as the Pulse nightclub mass killing on June 12 in Orlando.

“A lot of law enforcement agencies are utilizing this technology today and there’s a real need for it,” Adams said.

Other applications are environmental and international, including tracking animal poachers and illegal gold mining, Adams said.

Adams is chairman of emergency response company MobileHelp in Boca Raton and founder of web-hosting company Hiway Technologies, which was sold to Verio in 1999. The serial entrepreneur endowed what is now the Adams’ Center for Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic University in 2000 and he is adviser for FAU’s Tech Runway start-up business program. Adams also was winner of the Sun Sentinel’s 2001 Excalibur Award for business leadership in Palm Beach County.

He founded EagleEye with Boca Raton resident Rex Ciavola in March 2015. The company has raised $3.6 million with Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners in Tampa as the largest investor. It has 23 employees.

Adams said he views the drone surveillance industry as a similar entrepreneurial opportunity as Hiway Technologies was two decades ago, before bigger companies got involved.

“I see this as a space just as big as the Internet was in the ‘90s,” he said.

The VentureTech Showcase was hosted by the Florida Venture Forum, an entrepreneurial support group.