Cozad New Venture Challenge 2024 Finalists


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The Technology Entrepreneur Center in The Grainger College of Engineering is pleased to announce the seven finalists selected to compete in the Finals Event of the campuswide Cozad New Venture Challenge 2024 that will be held at the Portal Innovations in Chicago on April 17. The experiential program that is focused on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and supports the creation of new sustainable business ventures has awarded over $2.8 million in funding, cash, and in-kind prizes to Illinois startups since its inception in 2000.

At the Cozad New Venture Challenge 2024 Finals Event, the finalists will present their startup ideas to a panel of judges for the top placement prizes. All the teams, including the finalists that took part in the Demo Day, will be eligible for prizes totaling over $400,000 in funding, cash, and in-kind prizes. 

Karan Jain, Co-founder of BYLD Innovations 
Karan Jain, Co-founder of BYLD Innovations 

This year, the campuswide competition kicked off in early February with over 190 competing teams representing 10 colleges. The teams attended 4 workshops on customer discovery, value proposition, financials, and presentation skills besides optional skills development workshops. Nearly 130 startup teams made it to the Demo Day that took place on April 11 at the Illinois Conference Center in Champaign, Illinois. The teams pitched their startup ideas to about 170 past Cozad alumni, investors, mentors, faculty, sponsors, and partners of the thriving University of Illinois entrepreneurship ecosystem who served as judges.

The Cozad New Venture Challenge 2024 Finalists are: 

Pathlit: Pathlit is a no-code tool that enables extremely rapid testing, building, and evaluation of multi-LLM generative AI solutions without any deep expertise in tech or AI. The startup is led by the Economics student (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences) Advay Gupta. 

BYLD Innovations: Led by Karan Jain, Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering student, BYLD Innovations is building a revolutionary, portable, and foldable 3D printer for increasing accessibility to 3D printing and innovation. 

AmnioSense: Led by the Carle Illinois College of Medicine student, Tessabella Magliochetti, AmnioSense is an at-home amniotic fluid detection system built into a disposable underwear liner to provide a reliable test ensuring timely and accurate identification of labor onset. This team is in the Healthcare Track in the competition, a collaborative effort with the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. This track focuses on advancing healthcare innovations with specialized workshops, mentoring, and a dedicated $100,000 in funding and prizes, covering areas such as Rural HealthSports Medicine, and Healthcare Innovation. 

AUVI: The startup is in the Healthcare Track of the competition aims to be the glucose monitor of the hemodialysis space. Led by the Carle Illinois College of Medicine student, Richie Li, AUVI is developing a wearable device placed after every arteriovenous fistula (AVF) procedure for remote monitoring to enable early detection and surveillance. AUVI detects the signs of a failing AV fistula early, which prevents the need for expensive surgeries and improves the quality of life for patients with end-stage kidney disease.  

Provenance Security: Led by the Computer Science graduate student, Akul Goyal, the startup is developing a next generation endpoint detection and response tool tailored for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Unlike big businesses, SMBs can't maintain an internal security team and outsource cybersecurity to third-party security providers who have high false alarm rates and long threat investigation times.

Cote Privacy: Cote is developing an AI Governance SaaS platform that is intuitive, forward-thinking, and compliance centric. Led by the Gies College of Business student, Shriya Srikanth, Cote Privacy aims to be the go-to AI governance platform for small and medium-sized financial services firms lacking in-house capabilities. 

Tessabella Magliochetti, Carle Illinois College of Medicine student and Co-founder of AminoSense
Tessabella Magliochetti, Carle Illinois College of Medicine student and Co-founder of AminoSense

ClimeCast: ClimeCast uses AI to optimize decarbonization strategy for commercial real estate. Led by Computer Science and Linguistics student (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), Raj Amalakanti, the startup aims to help firms navigate emissions-based regulations, identify cost-effective decarbonization projects, and source reliable vendors.

Demo Day Cozad Prizes 

Some Cozad prizes like the Ag Innovation prize, Demo Day Best Pitch prize, Demo Day Out of The Box Thinking Prize, Social Impact Prize, and EnterpriseWorks Student Startup Tenancy prize were awarded at the Demo Day.

Ag Innovation Prize | MethaFarm won the $2,500 Ag Innovation prize. The startup aims to localize and improve the sustainability of small-scale farm waste management systems. MethaFarm utilizes small anaerobic digesters to process the waste into fertilizer and biogas, which can be converted into electricity. The carbon byproduct is then captured and sold.

Demo Day Best Pitch Prize| Vena won the $500 prize. Vena is addressing healthcare inequity experienced by patients with substance use disorders who require long-term intravenous antibiotic treatments to combat life-threatening infections.

Demo Day Out of The Box Thinking Prize | Geni won the $500 prize that recognizes students’ creativity, originality, and visionary approach to solving problems with novel concepts. Geni is a platform for teachers to use AI to create fun, personalized assignments in their classroom. From storybooks to worksheets, Geni is a teacher's all-in-one portal to using cutting-edge AI in the classroom.

Social Impact Prize | FaMe: Fall Management in Wheelchair Users won the $500 prize for demonstrating outstanding commitment to creating positive change and making the world a better place through innovative solutions. FaMe aims to solve complex challenges faced by individuals with disabilities by developing a wearable, customizable device specifically designed for wheelchair users to detect and manage falls.

EnterpriseWorks Student Startup Tenancy Prize | This prize includes access to the co-working and conference room spaces in EnterpriseWorks, the startup incubator at the Research Park, beginning May 2024 through April 2025. Teams that won this prize include Pathlit, AVEA Robotics, Radiant Looms, AmnioSense, Clime Cast, and MedTerms.  

AVEA Robotics is developing a Co-Cleaning System, an autonomous floor cleaning system for large commercial buildings.

Radiant Looms is focused on developing a thin, lightweight, comfortable, anti-ionization-radiation baby suit to prevent radiation exposure to infants undergoing medical imaging in the NICU.

MedTerms is a software product that reduces the cognitive and emotional burden associated with medical education via a user-centered design that helps students memorize less and understand more.

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This story was published April 12, 2024.