2017 Cozad Winners Announced


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The Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is pleased to announce the winners of the 17th annual Cozad New Venture Competition. Winners were announced at the Entrepreneurship Forum at the Illini Union on Wednesday, April 28, 2017.

This year, a total of $200,000 in cash funding and in-kind prizes were awarded to teams to advance in their ventures. Prize amounts were awarded to those teams chosen to compete for the grand prizes. The Grand Prize Winners were Trala, an app that tracks practice time and provides instant feedback to violin and viola musicians, and Autonomic Energy Systems, a startup addressing lithium ion battery fires through thermoresponsive microcapsules. Corporate Sponsors, including Walmart, Huawei, AARP Foundation, and more, also awarded prizes to certain teams that focused on specific areas of innovation. 

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. Cozad New Venture Competition is designed to encourage our students to create new and unique businesses. 

Awards and winners of the 2017 Cozad New Venture Competition include:

Non-University Resourced Track Grand prize awards:

1st place:  Trala ($15,000)

2nd place:  Mesh ++ ($10,000 IllinoisVENTURES convertible note, $500 cash)

3rd place:  VR MD ($1,000)

University Resourced Track Grand Prize awards:

1st place: Autonomic Energy System ($10,000, $5,000 Energy Specific Venture Award)

2nd place: Steady ($5,000)

3rd place: PhantomCor ($1,000)

IllinoisVENTURES Innovation Award ($10,000): Mesh ++

Edwin Moore Family Agriculture Innovation Prize ($5,000): Skydro

Best Energy Specific Venture Award ($5,000): Autonomic Energy Systems

V. Dale Cozad Best Pitch Award ($5,000): Autonomic Energy Systems

Huawei Innovation Award ($2,500): TranslAPI

Abbvie Best Team in Pharmaceutical Space ($1,250): Invoq Health, Therapalz

In-Kind Service Prizes:

+Adjacency will provide Pwr. and Trala storyboarding production for a one (1) minute demon/pitch video.

[co][lab]: Trala and Dibbs will receive six months of [co][lab] shard office space for both teams.

EnterpriseWorks: Mesh ++, Autonomic Energy Systems, PhantomCor, and InContAlert will receive incubation space and resources from EnterpriseWorks for 12 months, which includes student shared office and/or laboratory space and counsel from the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence that meet with student teams regularly. 

I-Start Prize: Autonomic Energy Systems was awarded into the I-Start program which provides 90% funding for the cost of first-year legal services, accounting/financial assistance, SBIR application consulting, business plan and market research preparation, basic website development and logo design.

Illinois Business Consulting (IBC): One team (TBD) will receive a semester-long consulting project from IBC for their venture will be determined at a later date. IBC is a student consulting organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are student led and student driven. A team of student consultants will work with Reconstruct, Inc. to complete an agreed-upon consulting project during the 2016-2017 academic year.   Past work for Cozad teams includes the development of pricing strategies, market entry strategies, and work in the area of technology commercialization.  

iVenture Accelerator: Up to three teams (TBD) will receive space for their yearlong, educational startup acceleration program. The iVenture Accelerator enables student-led startups to create economic and social value by supporting student entrepreneurs with knowledge, funding, and access to world-class University of Illinois resources and alumni. A $2,500 stipend per student fellow and up to $10,000 in seed funding per startup team will be awarded.

Meyer CapelVRMA, Trala, and Mesh++ will receive free legal services in the areas of incorporation, bylaws/operating agreement, initial incorporation/organization documents, drafting employment agreements, non-disclosure.   

Polsinelli Law FirmSteady will receive a legal service that includes legal consultation and documents for entity formation, equity incentive awards, angel or VC investment, founder agreements, intellectual property rights, and vendor and licensing agreements will be determined at a later date. 

Serra VenturesTranslAPI will receive 10 hours in free consulting services for review of business plan and/or pitch will be determined at a later date.

Singleton Law Firm, PC: Autonomic Energy Systems, PhantomCor, InContAlert, and Optivolt Labs will receive free legal services in the areas of corporate formation, patent, trademark, and licensing. 

TechNexus Venture Collaborative: Mesh ++, Autonomic Energy Systems, and VRMD will receive access to space and resources for twelve months in Chicago, which includes work and meeting space, and access to the community of entrepreneurs and mentors growing there.  

TEKMILL: InContAlert will receive 80 hours engineering time and 40 hours fabrication.


Now in its 17th year, the Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC), offers students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship the opportunity to explore the skills necessary to succeed not only in the startup community but all facets of life. Established for V. Dale Cozad, an entrepreneur who founded Cozad Westchester Agricultural Asset Management, which to date has received $390 million in commitments from institutional agricultural investors. In recognition of Dale’s great success, and of his long friendship with Peter Fox, Peter and his wife Kim have, through a generous endowment, established the Cozad New Venture Competition through the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering. These gifts, enhanced by family and friends of Dale Cozad, honor his memory, his hard work, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit. This year, there were a record-setting 125 team submissions consisting of more than 230 team members, representing 8 colleges across campus and 11 departments within the College of Engineering.


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This story was published May 1, 2017.