The 14th Annual Cozad New Venture Competition that started in January has finally named two grand prize winners: Rithmio and Lumenous Co.
Nearly 120 teams applied for this year’s competition through the Technology Entrepreneur Center at the University of Illinois, and through a series of rounds- including an elevator pitch and the submission of a condensed Business Model Canvas, the teams were narrowed down to18 finalists.
These 18 student teams competed in the Finals Event last Friday, April 25th, for nearly $200,000 in funding and in-kind prizes such as legal counseling, branding packages and software licenses.
The startups showcased their ideas and technologies during a morning judging session where the top six teams were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of platinum sponsors, Illinois alumni and an audience of approximately 200 attendees in the afternoon.
These top six teams competed in two different tracks- University funded research and non-University funded teams. Both tracks awarded the top team with $20,000 in funding.
Rithmio (right), the winner of the University funded track, is creating gesture recognition software for wearable devices. The software allows the user to train the device for any number of activities- like weight-lifting or running, distinguish between those activities as well as track and analyze the activities that have been performed.
Lumenous Co. (left), the non-University funded winner, enables designers to inexpensively create immersive experiences to advertise, entertain and inform by leveraging a novel technology called “projection mapping,” which uses video projectors to transform the appearance of everyday objects.
Taking second place and $10,000 in funding for the University funded teams was ElectroCyt- a team that offers a portable, hand-held device capable of measuring counts of critical entities from whole blood. This condensed product will expand the availability of a complete blood count (CBC) to nearly all scenarios and locations.
Second place for non-University funded teams was Inscites Research, a platform that integrates into a researcher’s workflow and allows easy and secure collaboration and knowledge curation.
Hashtagr is a unique search engine that aggregates hashtags across social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+ and Vine. This provides a simple, quick and fun way to discover what is trending throughout the world through the global power of hashtags.
AVriculture (right) has developed an aerial vehicle, the Cropter, for automated crop surveillance. The Cropter travels a predetermined flight, monitors time sensitive events such as germination, pest presence, disease onset, and weather related crop damage, and can upload a data summary to the cloud.
Also winning cash prizes on the day:
Flaming Cactus, an integrated home automation experience that uses Bluetooth to control appliances, for Lextech Global Services Best Mobile App ($5,000);
MoboSens, a company that creates a smartphone based disposable sensor with the ability to measure the concentration of nitrate to help environmentalists and farmers test water quality and synchronize data, for Monsanto Sustainable Ag Startup ($5,000);
Food Origins, uses cloud-computing and GPS –enabled analytics to assist fresh produce farming operations to acquire, store, and analyze data about their produce, in tandem with data points such as time of picking, genetic strain and more, for Cozad Ag Startup Award ($3,500);
Babu, their product cuts down on paper waste by allowing business and users to exchange receipt information online, for Best Undergraduate Team ($1,000).
Each year, this competition surpasses the year prior. The teams are more prepared and more innovative than ever, which increases sponsorship interest. The judges and mentors contribute more time into giving our teams honest and critical feedback in hopes that they will keep iterating and improving to become our next generation of entrepreneurs.
To all of the teams, congratulations and good luck.