Capti, a Buffalo-based education technology startup, has received a $1 million boost from the National Science Foundation.
Capti was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Grant to conduct research and development on accessible reading for students.
It is another step forward for Capti, which relocated to Buffalo from Long Island in 2019. The startup now has four locally based employees and one employee working remotely. The business is based at the University at Buffalo's Downtown Gateway.
The foundation's grant will fund Capti's development of technology that automatically simplifies texts to match students' reading level, said Yevgen Borodin, the company's CEO.
"The funding is restricted to R&D, so we are seeking additional capital to grow our business. The grant has already attracted interest from several investors, and we also hope it will help us win 43North," Borodin said, referring to the local business competition held annually that awards start-up firms funding in an effort to grow and retain businesses in Buffalo.
With so many students reading below grade level, Borodin says Capti's text simplification technology will help struggling readers improve their vocabulary and reading comprehension.
“(The National Science Foundation) is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, director of the foundation's Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”
Capti competed in the 2018 and 2019 43North business plan competitions, but didn't win prize money. This year's slate of 43North finalists – a competition with a $1 million grand prize – has not yet been announced.
Capti relocated to Buffalo in 2019, before that year's 43North competition. Borodin said the move has worked out in terms of finding talent, being part of the startup community and the ease of getting around town.
"With all the parks, restaurants and entertainment, Buffalo has a lot to offer and is a great place to live," he said. "Best decision!"