Mechanodontics Takes Home the Cozad New Venture Challenge Grand Prize

4/12/2019 9:13:00 AM Urvashi Jha, Marketing & Communications Coordinator


Mechanodontics, a startup developing revolutionary orthodontic treatment is the Grand Prize winner in the 20th annual Cozad New Venture Challenge. The Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) awarded $25,000 to Mechanodontics at the Cozad New Venture Challenge Showcase and Finals event at the I-Hotel and Conference Center on April 10, 2019. This year nearly $250,000 was awarded in cash and in-kind prizes to 55 teams at the Showcase and Finals event.

TEC hosts the campus-wide Cozad New Venture Challenge that encourages students to foster an entrepreneurial mindset, to innovate and to create new businesses. In its 20th year, Cozad has seen 1200+ teams, 2000+ students, and awarded close to $2 million in cash and in-kind prizes to student innovators.

James Wratten, a grad mathematics student in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, co-founded Mechanodontics in 2016. In addition to the grand prize, Mechanodontics was also awarded the $10,000 Dr. Paul Magelli Innovation Prize presented by the Illinois Ventures. “The Cozad New Venture Challenge program was a great experience, and we were honored to be a part of it. There was a lot more to this competition than the grand prize,” said James Wratten. “Multiple workshops, pitching and presentation opportunities were available, and it really helped us further develop our business idea. Being the grand prize winner will also give us more credibility to acquire customers and investors.” 

Mechanodontics is developing revolutionary behind-the-teeth braces. Placed behind the teeth, the Mechanodontics braces considerably shortens the treatment time, allows for easier cleaning than traditional braces, and is more comfortable than any other behind-the-teeth braces.

Mechanodontics plans to initially target adult patients in the United States. Three million patients in the United States and ten million patients worldwide begin orthodontic treatment each year. The startup has treated around 80 patients so far and plans to officially launch its product in the market in May.

“In its 20th year, the Cozad New Venture Challenge continues to reflect our commitment to creating innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders,” said Jed Taylor, Executive Director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center. “The program’s goal is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs like our grand prize-winning team Mechanodontics. The startup is working towards revolutionizing the multibillion-dollar orthodontic treatment market in the country. We congratulate the team and wish them a grand success.” 


Second Place | $10,000

HexNest took home the $ 10,000-second place prize. The startup is focused on reducing the chance of injury in sports. It has developed a gymnastics mat that provides better impact attenuation, delivering a safer landing for athletes. 



Third Place | $7,500

DeepWalk earned the $7,500 third place prize. The startup is developing computer vision solutions for the assessment of construction for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for municipalities, engineers, and construction contractors.



Fourth Place | $5,000

Turkbox won the $5,000 fourth prize. The startup has developed a content monetization platform that offers paywall alternatives to online news publications and blogs through data classification widgets.



In addition to the grand prize winners, the nine finalists comprised Socket Design for the Blind, Verge Exotic Pet Products, Daniat, Own the Spot, and RingWing. 

Other Cash Prizes

In addition to the Grand Prize and other top placement prizes, sponsored prizes were also awarded. Details are listed below.

Dr. Paul Magelli Innovation Prize | $10,000

Mechanodontics, the Cozad Grand Prize winner, also won the Dr. Paul Magelli Innovation Prize. The $10,000 prize by IllinoisVENTURES will be in the form of a direct or convertible equity investment.

Amazon Alexa Prize | $7,500

Yummy Future and Vision, shared the prize for the best Alexa-enhanced products, with each team receiving $3,750. Yummy Future provides robotic IoT solutions for the coffee and beverage industry. Vision has developed a wearable device that helps visually impaired individuals to live independently using artificial intelligence.

Edwin Moore Family Agriculture Innovation Prize | $5,000

Daniat, an agricultural startup developing sensor-based technology to revolutionize the date palm industry, won the prize. The award honors the legacy of Edwin E. Moore (1924), who graduated from the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois and began farming in Will County.

V. Dale Cozad Best Pitch Award | $5,000

Verge Exotic Pet Products, a startup developing the automatic cricket dispenser to allow reptile owners peace of mind while away from their pets, won the best pitch award.

Social Innovation Prize | $1,000

Socket Design for the Blind, a company solving problems of accessibility, interaction, and safety of electrical sockets for the blind, won the prize for helping solve a broad social need.

Huawei Innovation Award | $2,500

Turkbox, the 4th place winner, also won the prize for the best software solution or the best “Internet of Things” related innovation.

AARP, The Tech Nest Award | $1,250

Alice Sensors, a startup that is developing a wearable device to decrease older adult’s fall risk by providing valuable information about potential trip hazards in the current environment, won the award for inventing new ways to live and age.

AbbVie Award | $1,250

Mechanodontics, the Cozad Grand Prize winner, also won the award for developing the best-personalized health solution. AbbVie is a research-driven biopharmaceutical company.

Founders Best Newcomer Prize | $500

Marlo, a startup developing a language learning software, won the Best Newcomer Prize. Founders is a Registered Student Organization.


In-kind Service Prizes

TechNexus Prize

Own It Technologies, Daniat and Garuda won the access to TechNexus Incubator 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. Own It Technologies has developed a platform to enable skateboarders to compete and interact with other skateboarders worldwide. Garuda is developing a mesh network of drones that will help map wildfire prone national and state parks to predict and analyze wildfires.

Adjacency Prize

Marlo and RingWing, LLC, both won the prize. Marlo is a startup developing a language learning software, and RingWing, LLC, sells patented indoor catchable gliders. Adjacency will provide storyboarding and production for a one (1) minute demo/pitch video.

BioPhia Consulting, Inc. Prize

Envora and Mechanodontics won 20 hours of free consulting in the medical products area. Envora is developing effective and convenient skin care products.

[co][lab] Prize

Marlo, Yummy Future, Ricasa, and MyTyde won six months of [co][lab] shared office space in Urbana, IL. Ricasa is a peer-to-peer mobile platform where people can buy and sell home cooked meals. MyTyde is a community network where the user, business and brands can come together to connect in a more meaning way.

EnterpriseWorks Incubation Space Prize

DeepWalk, HexNest, Own It Technologies and RoboRef won 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. RoboRef is a mobile application to automate the scoring of friendly ping pong matches.


Research Park I-Start Prize

HexNest, Cozad Grand Prize 2nd Place winner, won acceptance into the I-Start program, which provides 80% funding for the cost of first-year legal services, accounting/financial assistance, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) application consulting, business plan and market research preparation, basic website development, and logo design.

Illinois Business Consulting (IBC) Prize

Kodeblue, an intuitive product that teaches children programming fundamentals, won the management consulting services for the fall 2019 semester to support market entry and customer discovery. IBC is a student-run, professionally managed consulting organization.

iVenture Accelerator Prize

Own it Technologies and DeepWalk won space in the yearlong, educational startup accelerator program.

Meyer Capel Prize

DeepWalk, Turkbox, and HexNest won free legal services by Meyer Capel in the areas of incorporation, bylaws/operating agreement, initial incorporation/organization documents, drafting employment agreements, non-disclosure.

mHUB Prize

Filify3D, HexNest, and CamUX won a three-month Co-Working membership at the mHUB innovation center in Chicago. Filify3D is reducing plastic waste by transforming it into 3D printer filament for desktop 3D printers. CamUX is reinventing relationship with technology by simplifying input mechanisms to streamline the user experience.


Serra Ventures Prize

DeepWalk, 3rd place Cozad winner also won up to 10 hours in free consulting services for review of the initial business model/plan, value proposition, and investor pitch from Serra Ventures.

Singleton Law Firm, PC Prize

Mechanodontics, Verge Exotic Pet Products, Daniat, and Own It Technologies won free legal services in the areas of corporate formation, patent, trademark, and licensing by Singleton Law Firm.

Stackend Solutions Prize

DeepWalk won up to 20 hours towards building a high-quality web platform by Illinois student startup Stackend Solutions.

IP Clinic Participants 

IP Clinic is a joint effort at the University of Illinois between the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) at the College of Engineering and the College of Law (COL). Patent and trademark applications are prepared free of charge for startup companies selected from Cozad New Venture Challenge. Each patent application typically costs around $10,000-$12,000 and trademark registrations and strategy costs around $2,000-$2,500. This year, DeepWalk, Verge Exotic Pet Products, Yummy Future, and OSD were in the Patent track. The IP Clinic helped 31 Cozad teams with trademark applications. 


About the Cozad New Venture Challenge

The campus-wide Cozad New Venture Challenge is TEC’s signature program that encourages students to foster an entrepreneurial mindset, to innovate, and to create new businesses. Students don’t just compete—they get mentoring and educational opportunities throughout the year to help them prepare for Cozad. Students are guided through the startup process and learn about idea validation, pitching skills, and customer discovery. Nearly $2 million has been awarded in cash and in-kind prizes to student innovators through Cozad since 2000.