Hailey Nichols Wins Graduate Category at Inaugural Female Founder Pitch Competition

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November 12, 2021

WNCG student Hailey Nichols won first place in the Graduate/Postdoc category at last month’s Female Founder Pitch competition. The event was hosted by the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute and the Texas Innovation Center.

The competition showcased emerging businesses and innovative technologies developed by women who are “paving the way to have a significant impact on the world.” Participation was open to startup ecosystem women-founders in five categories: UT Undergraduate, UT Graduate/Postdoc, UT Faculty/Staff, UT Alumnae, and Community. Two winners were selected from each category; first-place winners received $7,500, and second-place winners received $2,500.

Nichols’ early-stage technology startup, Locus Lock, presents a robust software-defined radio (SDR) to the market that can provide end users with precise heading and positioning that can be used for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT). The aim is to provide high-integrity, centimeter-accurate, real-time positioning and to ensure global availability at a low cost.

“In an era of emerging space technology and advanced robotics, there is a practical need for accurate, affordable, robust, secure, and flexible streaming and collection of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals and data,” Nichols stated. “To highlight one example, autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are reliant on lightweight GNSS solutions for precise positioning. Locus Lock can offer centimeter-level precision and security in a small, lightweight form factor that is suitable for micro-aerial platforms.”

The 10 winning teams from October’s competition will return in March 2022 for the grand prize event: the startup founders will pitch directly to a panel of judges—including Austin entrepreneur Kendra Scott—for a chance at an additional cash prize of $10,000.

Hailey Nichols is a master’s student in The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and is part of the Radionavigation Laboratory advised by Prof. Todd Humphreys. Nichols plans to develop and grow Locus Lock full-time after her expected graduation in Spring 2022. Nichols earned her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2019.

Related—Find out more about Hailey and her experience forming her startup, Locus Lock. Check out the Department of Aerospace Engineering's featured interview: 5 Questions with Graduate Student and Entrepreneur, Hailey Nichols

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