Past Winners

Past Winners

Many prizes are given to a variety of teams, but the list below includes the Grand Prize Winners from each year.


Cara Bognar and Allison Landis

Led by Grainger Engineering student and a D1 swimmer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Cara Bognar, Top Tier Lessons leveraged the new market opportunity provided by the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) bill that was passed in 2021. NIL refers to an individual's ability to capitalize on their right of publicity and to be compensated through third-party endorsements. The platform, which was launched on April 10, offers lessons for football, basketball, swimming, and soccer. The platform arranges the venue for lessons, payment, scheduling, and other logistics. 

Learn more about Top Tier Lessons and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2023 Cozad New Venture Challenge Awards Ceremony here.


Shawn Coffell, Raj Lulla, Tyler Revesz, and Namin Shah

Haylon Technologies is developing the next generation of smart hybrid batteries. The startup aims to revolutionize the performance, safety, and sustainability of batteries through a proprietary ‘smart’ battery management system that can improve battery life by up to 50%. The system can intelligently switch between different energy sources to accomplish different tasks. 

Learn more about Haylon Technologies and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2022 Cozad New Venture Challenge Awards Ceremony here.

Natrion logo2020-21

Alex Kosyakov, Tom Rouffiac, Ritin Joseph, Henry Markarian, and Jake McFarland

NATRION is developing a proprietary solid-state battery technology called LISIC, or Lithium Solid Ionic Conductor, which eliminates fire risk and improves battery life and durability.

Learn more about Natrion and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2021 Cozad New Venture Challenge Awards Ceremony here.



James Wratten

MECHANODONTICS, now named Brius, uses a revolutionary method that straightens teeth instead of traditional braces or aligners. Placed behind the teeth so they cannot be seen, this method considerably shortens treatment time, allows for easier cleaning, and is more comfortable than any other behind-the-teeth braces.

Learn more about Mechanodontics and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2019 Cozad New Venture Challenge Finals Event here.

Vitrix Health


Ayush Kumar and Aashay Patel

VITRIX HEALTH uses optical technology and machine learning to screen for oral cancer. Vitrix Health gives dentists and other oral care physicians the ability to detect lesions, often an early sign of cancer, and giving them an opportunity to order a biopsy to further look into the problem.

2016-17 | Student Track

Sam Walder

TRALA is an intelligent practice app for musicians that listens to you play your real instrument and provides real-time feedback and motivation to help you learn twice as fast.

Learn more about Trala and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2017 Cozad New Venture Challenge Finals Event here.


2016-17 | University Resources Track

Anthony Griffin, Arthur Hoki, and Ishaan Sood

AUTONOMIC ENERGY SYSTEMS enables safe, long-lasting lithium-ion batteries by using thermoresponsive microcapsules.

Learn more about Autonomic Energy Systems and ALL of the prizes that were awarded at the 2017 Cozad New Venture Challenge Finals Event here.


2015-16 | Student Track

Lucas Frye, Joey Varikooty, "Howie" Wei Yang, Tang An Yang, and Xiang Wen

AMBER AGRICULTURE is developing a wireless sensor that monitors crops stored in grain bins. The sensor will communicate important data directly to a smartphone app. Farmers can then use this data to assess the crop's value and make management decisions. The sensor measures carbon dioxide, organic compounds, temperature, and humidity. These factors determine the grain's moisture content and can help farmers know how best to control their dryers and fans to ensure proper moisture levels of their grain.


2015-16 | University Resources Track

Hanze Ying, Yichen Yang, Garrett Chou, Manas Gosavi, Yuxiao Wu and Yingfeng Yang

HPT: HINDERED POLYUREA TECHNOLOGY creates a low-cost, recyclable sacrificial polymer (polymers that can evaporate thermally). This is a cheaper, cleaner and safer material for semiconductors, orthopedic implants, and more.



Aadeel Akhtar and Patrick Slade

PSYONIC is creating highly advanced prosthetic hands at 10 times less cost to improve the lives of people with amputations worldwide. PSYONIC is co-founded by Aadeel Akhtar, a PhD candidate in Neuroscience and Patrick Slade, junior in Mechanical Science & Engineering.



Thomas Reese

FLIPWORD is a device that allows you to passively learn a language while browsing the web. The simple chrome plugin selects keywords on a webpage and converts them to the specified language, allowing you to learn that language easily and passively. Flipword is founded by Thomas Reese, a graduate student in Computer Science.



Adam Tilton and Prashant Mehta

RITHMIO is a data analytics software company with an analytics engine based on research originally funded by the US Air Force for missile guidance and satellite navigation applications. Their first product is a gesture recognition system for wearable devices.



Brett Jones, Rajinder Sodhi, and Kevin Karsch

LIGHTFORM (previously LUMENOUS) creates computer vision technology to make projection mapping easier, cheaper, and more powerful. Lightform was launched by three leading computer science PhD students with expertise and licensing history in computer vision technologies.



Nishana Ismail and Tim Deppen

SERVABO is a self-protection technology company dedicated to reducing the frequency of violent crime. From quickly and discreetly notifying friends of an emergency to providing enhanced safety measures, Servabo is here to keep you safe and secure.



Jim Langer and Welhua Zheng

SERIONIX is an advanced materials company developing high-performance filtration technologies to remove toxic or unwanted chemicals from air and water. Serionix purification is differentiated by game-changing performance, well-defined selectivity for targeted chemicals, and potential for low-cost production.



Yi Chen, Aaron Wiener, Dave Tarvin, Rui Cai, and Jingrui Lu

EFFIMAX SOLAR is developing a more efficient Nanotexturing technique for more solar cells that they will sell to photovoltaic manufacturing plants. They engineer products for solar manufacturers worldwide. Their patented silicon nanotexturing approach produces the industry's most powerful solar cells, and shortens a traditional 3-hour production process to just 5 minutes. Their aim is to reduce solar manufacturing costs and facilitate affordable solar power at the consumer level.



Zach Tratar, Rob Grzyb, and Jason Febery

CONTENDABLE is a platform for hosting and managing competitions in a unique community-based network which enables businesses to crowdsource innovation.



Mathew Gornick and Ryan Matthews

ORANGEQC is a simple, powerful janitorial inspection app and website that help your team do quality control right. They work with contractors and offer them a software as a service (SaaS) web application to keep track of the quality of service as well as mobile device software to perform area inspections.



Adam Steele, Will Leinweber, and August Knecht

MERGE.FM is collaborative songwriting and music composition website based on audio tracks. This technology will allow millions of musicians to collaborate on songs together.



Paulius Elvikis, Jingyan Dong, and Deep Kishore

CANSIL developed their first product, the CanderPinch detection system. The CancerPinch diagnoses metastatic cancer cells within in-vitro tissue samples. CanSil leverages nano-fabrication techniques to make microdevices that detect cancer. These devices exploit the difference in mechanical properties between cancerous and healthy cells to make diagnoses faster and more reliably than existing techniques.



Adam Sawyer and Kurt Adair

SA MICROSYSTEMS goal is to provide universities and research laboratories with easy-to-use workstations for analyzing microfluidic devices. Sawyer and Adair predict that their device will be used primarily by individuals developing new microfluid projects related to blood testing and DNA analysis.



Dan Moorehead and Aaron Pollack

REALMWARE is produces a tool that can help build three-dimensional games, simulations and visualizations. Realmware Corporation, developer of the Visual 3D Game Engine, provides a full range of offshore and US-based software development services for 3D games, simulations, and virtual worlds. The underlying 3D engine for Visual3D Game Engine first began development in 2003, and with Visual3D's All-in-One Toolset beginning development in late 2005.



Michael Callahan, Thomas Coleman, David Osorio, and Bridget Ahern

AMBIENT CORPORATION developed the Audeo. The Audeo is a sensory device placed around the neck of an afflicted person. In operation, it intercepts the signals from the brain that control the vocal chords and the vocal tract. The speech can then either be output directly or used to control external devices, such as a motorized wheelchair.



Andrew Honegger and Andy Phillip

MICROLUTION INC was acquired by GF Machining Solutions in 2016. Previously, it was a 24-employee company that designed and manufactured specialty machines that create tiny, high-precision parts on Chicago's northwest side. After several years of university-level research beginning in the late 1990′s, Microlution officially incorporated in 2005 with a single 3-axis machine. Microlution offers a full line of 3, 4, and 5-axis micro-milling machines, femtosecond laser machining platforms, and a micro lathe for turning applications.



Michael Philpott and Eric Hiller

FEATURE BASED COSTING SYSTEMS is a system and method for automatically estimating the optimized cost of a part during the course of design of the part on a computer-aided design (CAD) system by a designer. An estimate of optimized costs and cost reasoning is fed to the designer as an output display on an output device.



Myung Kim and Aaron Goldstein

KIM LABORATORIES INC is a privately held biotech company. It began operations in May 2003 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) focusing on the food safety market and is now located in Rantoul, IL. Kim Laboratories is still the only company in the world who produces antibodies specific for Norovirus.



Bruce Flachsbart and Greg Moszgal

OPTOELECTRONIC ASSEMBLY is working to improve optoelectronic component manufacturing through the development of electronic components and is currently located in Longview, Illinois.



Julie Thompson and Larry Markoski

CHROMAX CHROMATOGRAPHY SOLUTIONS was started in 1998 by two chemistry students. The company developed chromatography devices, used by chemists in industry and academia for chemical analysis. The company was unable to produce many sales due to an expensive product and small market and they eventually shut down.