Cincinnati Innovates was created by a group of individuals and organizations in Greater Cincinnati to encourage and develop entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. The competition offered cash and in-kind prizes to contestants with a connection to Greater Cincinnati who had “transformative innovations.”
UC's entrepreneurial experts Chuck Matthews (left, in dark suit) and Dorothy Air (right, in grey suit) were well pleased at UC's showing.
A team of judges from the venture capital and technology industries, together with the sponsors, selected the winners of three commercialization awards and three patent awards. The commercialization awards were cash prizes to help winners “jumpstart” their innovations. The patent awards were in-kind pro bono legal services provided by Taft, Stettinius & Hollister to help winners legally protect their innovations. The “HYPE!” $2,000 cash prize community choice award was determined by ranking and page views on the CincinnatiInnovates.com Web site. Finally, there was also a cash prize of $1,000 for the best student innovator.
The competition was open to people from the 15-county Greater Cincinnati area. More than 270 people completed online entry forms. The entrants, 32 percent of whom were women, ranged from a 12-year-old in Milford to a 90-year-old in Cincinnati. More than 65,000 votes were cast for the HYPE! Community Choice Award.
And the winners were (UC connections noted in bold) …
First Prize, $20,000: Michael Bergman, “Numbskull 2.0,” a test-prep Facebook application
Second Prize, $10,000: Daniel Stull, “Venturepax — Families in Motion,” a Web tool allowing families to organize their outdoor adventures
Third Prize, $5,000: Noel Gauthier, “FireStop,” an ecologically friendly, inexpensive and innovative fire extinguisher
Associate Professor Jason Heikenfeld's electrofluidic display technology is of interest to producers of electronic readers.
Patent Awards (in-kind pro-bono legal services provided by Taft, Stettinius & Hollister)
First Prize, $10,000: Jason Heikenfeld, Electrofluidic Displays — A new approach for e-books that allows for electronic switching of pigments with the same brilliance as printed media
Second Prize, $2,500: Dan Clifton, Ox Handcuffs — A pair of handcuffs that allows police to apply handcuffs to a suspect’s arms without having to place them behind their backs first
Third Prize, $1,000: Phil Gettinger/Amro Kamel, the UlcerScale — a bathroom scale that detects diabetic foot ulcers
HYPE! Community Choice Award: $2,000
Winner: Ryan Eder, Include Fitness — A fitness system for those in wheelchairs
Student Innovator Award: $1,000
Winner: Patrick Yovanov, Central Line Catheter — A central venous catheter that’s safer and more comfortable than those now on the market
Chuck Matthews, professor and executive director of UC’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education & Research in the College of Business, attended the awards presentation.
“I was very impressed with both the quantity and the quality of the ideas submitted,” he stated. “While I am very excited by the top eight and the UC connections, I am equally excited by the prospects of so many of the other ideas as well. It is strong testimony of the creative and commercial potential that is such an integral part of Greater Cincinnati.”
Patrick Yovanov won the Student Innovator Award for his Central Line Catheter.
“The best innovations come from the most unexpected places,” said Elizabeth Edwards, a venture capital investor at Neyer Holdings, which launched the competition with partners Taft Stettinius & Hollister and public-private venture capital firm CincyTech.
“This is very exciting for UC and Greater Cincinnati,” Matthews added. “Also, a tip of the Bearcat cap to Elizabeth Edwards (UC CoB MBA '04) who was one of the key ideators and instigators of ‘Cincinnati Innovates.’ Her enthusiasm and energy for conceiving and creating programs like ‘In-One-Weekend’ and ‘Cincinnati Innovates’ to showcase Cincinnati's innovation and entrepreneurism are outstanding.”
“At the heart of ‘Cincinnati Innovates’ is the belief that our region is a great place for innovation, and this competition proved that belief to be reality," said James Zimmerman, a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm. "From biotechnology and the Internet to consumer products, medical devices and green technology, the range of innovation has been amazing."
Dorothy H. Air, associate senior vice president for Entrepreneurial Affairs at the University of Cincinnati, was proud of how well the competitors represented the university.
“I had contact with most of the winners from UC in one form or another and could not be more impressed with the talent, creativity, knowledge and passion that they each demonstrate,” said Air. “When it comes to innovation, UC is making major advances. This event demonstrates in a very visible way that innovation is prevalent in all of our colleges and at all levels — from students, all the way through faculty ranks. I think that past innovations for which we have been noted are only the starting point for the impact that UC will have in the development of game-changing technologies.”
One of the award winners who, himself, represents innovation from student through faculty ranks is Jason Heikenfeld. Native Cincinnatian Heikenfeld, an associate professor and director of the Novel Devices Laboratory in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, first came to UC as an engineering student. He is now one of the College of Engineering’s brightest young faculty members.
Heikenfeld’s winning innovation was “Electrofluidic Display Technology,” a new type of e-ink which has itself been getting a lot of ink in the press lately. After creating the electrofluidic display technology, Heikenfeld spun off a company, Gamma Dynamics, along with two other partners.
“My company is about to announce a major influx of funding that will support commercialization. However, most of this funding cannot support patents,” Heikenfeld says. “Therefore the $10k in pro bono work by Taft is truly a significant boost for us.”
“We created Gamma Dynamics with the goal of accelerating licensee revenue to the University of Cincinnati, and because we believe some of our product offerings can be manufactured here in Cincinnati,” Heikenfeld adds. “Our mission is Cincinnati-centric, so receiving an award from Cincinnati Innovates is particularly satisfying for us.”
Phil Gettinger graduated with a B.S. in biomedical engineering in 2008.
Besides showcasing the depth of innovation at UC, the awards also gave a glimpse of the breadth of UC’s programs. Some of the projects represented cross-college pollination.
“I am especially proud of the UlcerScale team — Phil Gettinger and Amro Kamel,” Chuck Matthews points out. “I had the great pleasure of meeting these two outstanding young biomedical engineers when they were undergrads in the College of Engineering here at UC and immediately saw the personal and professional passion that they brought to this innovative solution for reducing diabetic induced foot ulcers. After graduating, they both took my graduate entrepreneurship course this past autumn, and their knowledge, experience, expertise, hard work, creativity and determination always carry the day.
“They have represented UC at a number of business plan competitions this past year, including winning ‘The 110% Rhythm Award,’ at the Cardinal Challenge in Louisville this past May,” Matthews added. “This award goes to the team that demonstrates unwavering vision, passion and commitment to their chosen business.”
Phil Gettinger and Amro Kamel both graduated from UC with bachelor’s of science degrees in biomedical engineering in 2008. Kamel went on to earn a master of engineering degree in mechanical engineering in 2009. Dan Clifton graduated from UC with a bachelor’s of science in industrial design in 2009. His design experience ranges from small, award-winning firms like Whipsaw to Fortune 500 companies like Black & Decker. Ryan Eder graduated in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in industrial design from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and is now a product designer in Columbus. Noel Gauthier is a graduate student in DAAP and Patrick Yovanov is currently a senior undergraduate in industrial design.
Dan Clifton's clients range from Whipsaw to Black & Decker.
Cincinnati Innovates is sponsored by Greater Cincinnati organizations including CincyTech, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.
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The awards were given out in the beautiful Contemporary Arts Center.
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