NEWS from OCTANe’s High Tech Awards: OCTANe Plans to Add an Incubator to Complement its Accelerator and AWM Smart Shelf is Outstanding as Well as Smart…

A startup with the audacious goal of revitalizing brick-and-mortar retail was one of the main winners of OCTANe’s annual High Tech Awards last night.

AWM Smart Shelf was recognized as the Outstanding Small Technology Company. It’s a company that uses AI in retail environments to give customers personalized shopping experiences.

AWM intends to close its Series A round on September 24, CEO Kevin Howard told OC Startups Now Friday morning.

A testament to its outstanding-ness? The company was initially seeking $10 million, but has now raised $11 million with a VC lead, Howard said.

Kevin Howard, founder and CEO, AWM Smart Shelf

See related article on the company here.

The annual event at the Balboa Bay Resort is a testament to the vibrancy of OC’s innovation ecosystem. Key leaders celebrated and supported one another and shared their hopes that OC’s ecosystem thrive.

OCTANe is a multi-faceted organization in Aliso Viejo with a tech and lifesciences accelerator, LaunchPad. CEO Bill Carpou is one of the visionaries in seeking to unify the innovation ecosystems of OC, LA and SD.

In January, OC Startups Now first reported that LaunchPad will be moving to the Great Park in Irvine, in partnership with FivePoint Holding. See related article here on the move.

At the event last night, Carpou announced that OCTANe is also planning to launch an incubator, to complement the accelerator. He did not elaborate on the details at the event and could not be reached for further comment Friday morning.

Incubators typically attract early-stage startups, while accelerators attract those that are more established.

The other big winner was Edwards Lifescienes, which won in the Outstanding Large Technology Company category.

Edwards was at the vanguard of making OC a lifesciences hub decades ago and is now a global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease and critical care monitoring.

While being a ginormous global company, Edwards still looks to innovate by acquiring startups, such as its recent acquisition of CAS Medical Systems, a med-tech startup. See article on that $100 million acquisition here.

Other winners included:

Outstanding Emerging Technology Company:


This startup makes chips that can move AI from the cloud to “edge devices.”See recent article about Syntiant here.

Best Small Technology Company CEO:

Ike Kavas, Ephesoft

This startup developed a software service for businesses that want rapid cloud processing but also want to keep some of their servers on their premises. See recent article about Ephesoft here.

Best Technology Innovation in Software:

Titan Health & Security

This IT company developed a two-way, emergency mass communication system that uses AR to “see” in no-visibility situations.

Outstanding Innovation in Medical Technology & Lifesciences:


This med-device company focuses on dentistry, starting with root canal therapy.

Deal of the Year:


A year ago, Allergan announced that it would acquire Bonti for an upfront payment of $195 million. CEO Fauad Hasan is a former director of biologics manufacturing and development at Allergan. The biotech startup launched just three years ago. See article on the acquisition here.

Best Large Technology Company CEO:

Jeff Margolis, Welltok

This SaaS company developed a consumer activation platform for the healthcare industry, which connects consumers with personalized health improvement resources.

Best Technology Innovation in a Consumer Product:


This startup is developing a smart camera with an accompanying app and editing tools. Last year, it raised close to $6 million in a Series B round, bringing its total raised to about $12 million to date. See article about that here.

Other awards included:

The UCI Samueli School of Engineering 2019 Innovator of the Year award:

Andrei Shkel, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering w

Venture Partners of the Year:

Bruce Hallett, mangaing partner of Miramar Digital Ventures, a fund dedicated to seed and early-stage data tech companies and Jeff Weinhuff, managing partner of Visionary Ventures, a fund focused on ophthalmology and medical aesthetics

OCTANe Leadership Award:

Emile Haddad

chairman and CEO, FivePoint

See previous reference in this article to FivePoint

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

You don't have permission to register