Cozad New Venture Challenge Celebrates Inaugural Prize-Winning Teams and Healthcare Track Achievements


Written by

Insert caption here
 Year-End Celebration and Awards Ceremony at the Campus Instructional Facility 

The Cozad New Venture Challenge, the annual new business venture creation program, recently concluded with the Year-End Celebration and Awards Ceremony on April 24, 2024. The campuswide competition kicked off in early February with about 200 competing teams representing 10 campus colleges. 

Pathlit won the Grand Prize with $50,000 in investment. The startup is building a no-code platform built to empower users with all the tools necessary to easily customize, experiment, and deploy custom-fit generative AI solutions without any deep expertise in tech or AI.

This year, over $500,000 was awarded to Cozad teams, including many inaugural prizes. Last year marked the introduction of the Healthcare Track, 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 Health Innovation, attracting 54 teams this year.

The prize pool for  teams in the Healthcare Track is sponsored by the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Sports Medicine Innovation Fund, and the Barkmeier Tice Rural Health Innovation Fund at Carle Health Center for Philanthropy. The award-winning teams are listed below.

Health Innovation Prize-Winning Teams | $25,000 total prize pool

This prize recognizes startups leveraging cutting-edge technology to pioneer transformative solutions in healthcare, catalyzing groundbreaking advancements in medical innovation.

CAPSLocks won $10,000 in funding. The startup is developing a first-of-its-kind ultra compact, affordable, and ergonomic scalp cooling system that prevents chemotherapy-induced alopecia in breast cancer patients.

AmnioSense, one of the 7 Cozad finalist teams, also won $7,500 in funding. AmnioSense is developing an at-home amniotic fluid detection system built into a disposable underwear liner which provides a reliable test, ensuring timely and accurate identification of labor onset.

LapSonix won $5,000 in funding. To increase visibility during laparoscopic surgeries, the LapSonix team is working on integrating an ultrasonic component into laparoscopes, which would allow for self-cleansing of the scope lens.

AUVI, second place winning team in the competition, also won $2,500 in funding. AUVI is developing a wearable device placed after every arteriovenous fistula (AVF) procedure for remote monitoring to enable early detection and surveillance. This startup aims to be the glucose monitor of the hemodialysis space.

Advancement in Sports Medicine Prize | $20,000 total prize pool

This prize recognizes innovative solutions, bridging healthcare and athletics, empowering past and present athletes through technology and medical advancements.  

AMELIA won $10,000 in funding. The startup is developing an automated lower extremity rehabilitation machine that enables one therapist to see multiple patients at a time, minimizes the required physical labor of therapists, and therefore reduces the treatment cost for patients with lower extremity movement impairment.

FaMe (Fall Management in Wheelchair Users) won $6,000 in funding. 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.

ElectroKare won $4,000 in funding. The team is building a non-invasive and continuously accessible electrolyte tracking SaaS platform for existing smartwatches for collegiate and professional athletes to quantize their hydration.

Insert caption here
Carle Illinois College of Medicine Dean Mark Cohen with FaMe team

Rural Health Innovation Prize | $30,000 total funding

This prize is for teams exploring solutions related to access to care, mental health, addiction, obesity, nutrition, and care for aging individuals. 

AUVI won first place in this prize category, with $7,500 in funding.

AmnioSense secured second place with $7,500 in funding.

Insert caption here
L to R: Dr. Joseph Barkmeier with team AUVI 

Atlas Neurosurgical Navigation secured third place with $5,000 in funding. Atlas is a medical technology that uses medical imaging and a coordinate measuring system to assist clinicians with performing an emergency neurosurgery procedure to save patients' lives when a neurosurgeon is not available.

AutoPap won fourth place with $5,000 in funding. The startup aims to tackle cervical cancer screening challenges in underserved areas through an AI-powered, fully automated system.

VENA secured fifth place with $5,000 in funding. VENA (Venous Entry with Non-tamperable Access) is an IV catheter system designed to prevent IV drug use in patients with opioid use disorder. The device provides long-term IV access that patients can only use for prescribed antibiotics. 

Global Impact Innovator Award | $5,000 

This inaugural award encourages students to embrace global entrepreneurship and contribute to a more interconnected world. Jeevatva is a waste management startup in India, aiming to minimize the municipal solid waste entering landfills through the process of composting and upcycling.

Business and Engineering Partnership Prize | $25,000 in total funding 

Illinois alums Rick and Gayle Landuyt sponsored this inaugural award, aiming to connect Grainger Engineering and Gies Business students and launch more ventures successfully and to connect those students to the Chicago innovation ecosystem. Each of the five teams won $5,000 in funding.

AristAI revolutionizes university teaching with its AI assistant, specifically designed to efficiently and accurately respond to student queries using course materials. Compatible with an array of popular learning platforms, including Canvas, Piazza, and Mediaspace, AristAI saves faculty time and enriches student learning experiences through its ability to provide immediate, context-aware answers.

Cote Privacy, one of the seven finalist teams, is developing an AI Governance SaaS platform that is intuitive, forward-thinking, and compliance centric. Cote Privacy aims to be the go-to AI governance platform for small and medium-sized financial services firms lacking in-house capabilities.

AUVI won funding in this prize category as well, besides several prizes in the program.

Methafarm develops sustainable and economical waste management solutions to convert waste to energy for small-scale cattle farmers across the United States.

CapCount is developing a scalable camera and data visualization solution that leverages AI technology to make capacity monitoring simple, accessible, and cheap for consumer facing businesses/institutions.

Grainger Engineering Cozad Prize | $25,000

This award is for teams ready to elevate their trajectory to connect with the Chicago tech ecosystem, access guidance from tech leaders and investors, and compete in a Chicago-based pitch competition against other Midwestern teams to thrive in Chicago’s tech landscape. 

Each of the five teams won $5,000 in funding.

Pathlit, the Grand Prize-winning team, also won funding in this prize category.

ClimeCast, the third place-winning team, uses AI to optimize decarbonization strategies for commercial real estate. The startup aims to help firms navigate emissions-based regulations, identify cost-effective decarbonization projects, and source reliable vendors.

Meta Frazo is revolutionizing the video dubbing industry with advanced AI technology, offering seamless translation, and dubbing in over 60 languages while preserving the original voice and syncing lip movements.

AristAI and Methafarm won $5,000 each in funding. 

See a full list of Cozad New Venture Challenge 2024 award winning teams


Share this story

This story was published May 1, 2024.