ASU nanotech startup places fourth in competition

Jonathan Bryan and Peter Firth, who founded an Arizona State University (ASU) tech startup in nanoparticle coatings, were recently honored at a business plan competition.


Jonathan Bryan and Peter Firth, who founded an Arizona State University (ASU) tech startup in nanoparticle coatings, were recently honored at a business plan competition.

The pair founded Swift Coat, for which they received a cash prize of over $70,000 at the Rice University competition in Houston.

Bryan, an electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate, and Firth, a graduate research associate, collaborated on the new company with the assistance of electrical engineering Assistant Professor Zachary Holman, using photovoltaic work in Holman’s laboratory, according to an announcement.

The firm’s name is derived from a system called proprietary deposition technology, which is capable of coating any surface with nanoparticles, and has potential applications for diverse industries.

Firth and Holman began the startup in 2016. Recognizing the need to grow prior to the Rice University event, they recruited Bryan to raise the bar on their expectations. Now their horizons have expanded with the resulting financial support and publicity.

This year marks the 17th annual competition, which has a reputation for intensity and selectivity.

“Our first day at the (Rice Business Plan Competition), they told us that this wasn’t just a competition, but the most intense and condensed startup accelerator program in the country,” Firth said in the announcement. “They weren’t kidding about that, and I can tell you that Swift Coat did not return to ASU the same company that traveled to Houston.”

Holman said that Bryan and Firth represented their company and ASU extremely well.

“I think their placement and recognition in this premier competition provides validation that Swift Coat has what it takes to be a successful company,” Holman said.

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