2016 Illinois Innovation Prize Finalists Announced

4/22/2016 12:06:32 PM Christine Olivo

Today, the Technology Entrepreneur Center and College of Engineering are excited to announce the seven Illinois Innovation Prize finalists. The winner will be announced and awarded at the Entrepreneurship Forum scheduled for Thursday, April 28 at the Illini Union.

The Top 3 Finalists are eligible to win $20,000 for standing out as a creative, passionate innovator and entrepreneur, who is working with world changing technology and is seen as a role model to others. The University of Illinois is a world leader in research, innovation and leadership, and distinguishes itself by creating knowledge and preparing students for lives of impact while addressing critical societal needs through invention and entrepreneurship.

Finalists for the 2016 Illinois Innovation Prize include:

Kandis Gilliard: a Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate and CEO and Founder of Nardo Technology. She is developing portable electroanalytical sensor devices for field detection of narcotics by law enforcement and software to interface with mobile devices.

Joshua Grolman: a Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering and NSF IGERT Graduate Research Fellow developing a novel encapsulation technique based on microfluidic all-aqueous templating with in-situ alginate gelation and functionalization for tissue engineering applications.

Arielle Rausin: a senior Business Management student 3D printing wheelchair gloves unique to each user. The glove fits each hand perfectly, is equally as durable and weighs more than 60 percent less that the glove most commonly used.

Jason Troutner: a senior studying Mechanical Engineering and CTO and Co-founder Cast21—a startup developing an innovative glove-like cast application method with a lattice structure and integrated vibration therapy.

Top 3 Finalists for the 2016 Illinois Innovation Prize include:

Aadeel Akhtar: a M.D./Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience and CEO and Co-founder of PSYONIC, a startup developing highly advanced, low-cost prosthetic hands—the first with sensory feedback—to those who need them around the world.

Matthew Alonso: an Agricultural Engineering Ph.D. student working on solving a global cooking problem by developing a portable solar thermal energy storage system without fuel, fire or emissions.

Mayank Kale: a junior Computer Science student and CEO and Founder of Invoq Health, a startup that is transforming the way community health NGOs and research organizations manage their healthcare information in India and Africa.


The Illinois Innovation Prize, administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative student on campus. This year, TEC will reward and recognize the most innovative student on campus with $20,000. This student is a creative, passionate innovator, working with world changing technology, entrepreneurially minded and a role model for others.


This day-long event allows attendees to participate in panel discussions, listen to keynote speeches by prominent members of the University of Illinois community and observe the announcement of the Cozad New Venture Competition and Illinois Innovation Prize winners. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn: How to Avoid Legal Mishaps for Startups, Forming and Growing Purpose-Led Ventures, How to Know Your Startup Idea Will Work and Why Diversity Matters in Tech (And It’s Not Why You Think). This event will take place at the Illini Union from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m, and will include presentations from keynote speakers Adam Evans, CTO of SalesforceIQ, and Ranjitha Kumar, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Apropose and Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science. The Illinois Innovation Prize Ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. before Cozad New Venture Competition finalists will showcase their ideas and compete for prizes during the final competition at 2:15 p.m. For a complete agenda please visit: go.illinois.edu/eforum2016