Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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February 20, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News 1 | ASUio event awards nearly $400,000 in prize money

Seven students from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Alabama are participating in the newly launched "HBCU Innovation Internship Program."

From Arizona State University:

Nearly $400,000 in funding was awarded to eight student ventures during the latest “Arizona State University Innovation Open” (ASUio) event that featured 26 teams of students representing 25 universities. With the most lucrative prize pot of any collegiate pitch event, ASUio just completed its eight year.

  • The ASU Innovation Prize of $100,000 was awarded to ATOMICS for its molecular-based data storage method using chemical engineering. Co-Founded by Brown University chemistry doctoral students Dana Biechele-Speziale and Selahaddin Gumus, the start-up is revolutionizing data storage by storing digital data using small molecules.
  • The ASU eSeed Pay It Forward Prize, also worth $100,000, went to Somnair, co-founded by John Hopkins University engineering graduate student Mitchell Turley, for its neuromodulating device to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Click here to learn more about the event and the other winners.

From Across the State of Alabama:

Seven students from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Alabama are participating in the newly launched “HBCU Innovation Internship Program” that is designed to diversify the pipeline of tech talent and create opportunities for underserved populations in the tech sector. The 12-week program, which kicked off in January 2024, is a collaboration involving the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Innovate Alabama. announce the launch of the  –

According to the announcement, the program is dedicated to addressing the challenges young Black professionals face and providing them with a pathway to success in the innovative landscape. By placing students from Alabama HBCUs in paid internships across six Alabama-based tech start-ups, accelerators, and incubators, the program’s goal is to create opportunities and lasting impact. The long-term hope is that these students will not only enjoy careers in start-ups or innovative organizations, but that they will do so here in Alabama.

The seven selected students come from four HBCUs in Alabama: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical UniversityMiles CollegeShelton State Community College and Tuskegee University.

From the University of Alabama at Birmingham:

A student team from the University received first place in the latest edition of the “Innovate Alabama: Entrepreneurship Hackathon.” The annual competition grants students the opportunity to form teams and present entrepreneurial pitches to solve a proposed problem. The statewide competition allowed college student teams from across Alabama to compete for a first-place prize of $10,000. The hackathon’s focus this year was on addressing the unique obstacles faced by rural entrepreneurs in Alabama.

From The Ohio State University:

A Denver-based start-up that licensed technology from the University has just raised a whopping $245.7 million, according to a Form D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company is clean energy start-up Koloma Inc. that is built on an invention developed by Tom Darrah, a former Professor of Earth Sciences at Ohio State, who now works for Koloma full-time as its Chief Technology Officer. Columbus Inno reports that the company has raised approximately $337 million since March 2022, per SEC filings.

Koloma is focused on finding plentiful hydrogen in deep underground rocks and extract it without creating more greenhouse gases.

From the University of North Carolina at Wilmington:

The University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has announced a new program titled “Idea Test Lab Powered by Wells Fargo.” It is a four-week program designed to work like a start-up incubator, with the goal of creating more founders in Southeastern North Carolina.

The inaugural cohort will consist of a maximum of 10 women in technology, depending on the applicant pool, who will participate in the early stage entrepreneurship course. At the end of the four sessions, the founders will pitch their ideas to an audience and a judging panel

Those chosen for the Idea Test Lab will be a tenant at the CIE’s co-working space for the duration of 2024. The usual price is about $140 per month. Additional networking support will be provided to members of the cohort through the end of the year.

From West Virginia University:

The mission of Vantage Ventures, an initiative of the John Chambers School of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, is to launch high impact, scalable businesses that tackle complex challenges. Founded in 2019, the organization has more than doubled its roster in the last 18 months, going from 29 start-ups under its wing in July 2022 to now more than 60.

“It’s not because of us,” says Sarah Biller, the program’s Executive Director. “There were already entrepreneurs in West Virginia who needed a community and a place that supported them. We don’t often think of West Virginia as the epicenter of technology and innovation, but I can tell you firsthand that I’ve been in a lot of sophisticated ecosystems like Boston and San Francisco. Now, back home in West Virginia, with the entrepreneurs that we see and work with, I would put them against any entrepreneur in any of those ecosystems.”

Click here to learn more.


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