Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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April 02, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News | ETSU’s iBUCS Student Venture Pitch Competition is this Friday

Three Georgia Tech students capture top prize in annual ACC student competition.

From East Tennessee State University:

The University’s annual iBUCS Student Venture Pitch Competition that offers students the opportunity to win seed money for their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas will be held this Friday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in The Cave at the D.P. Culp Student Center.

From the Georgia Institute of Technology:

Three Georgia Tech students who created a pediatric medical device won $15,000 during the 2024 ACC InVenture Prize, an annual undergraduate entrepreneurship competition for students at schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Biomedical engineering student Caitlin van Zyl, her sister and mechanical engineering major Jacqui van Zyl, and Meg Weaver, a biomedical engineering major, took first place with their invention, NeuroChamp. The wearable, concealed headband is used to continuously monitor pediatric seizures. Half a million children nationwide suffer from epilepsy, and many children experience daily, frequent seizures that cannot be detected by their parents, their teachers, or even themselves.

The team was inspired to create the device partly from personal experience. A child in Jacqui van Zyl’s hometown experienced the “silent seizures” that NeuroChamp can help monitor. The team is already working with physicians at Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to launch a pilot study of the medical device. Their ACC InVenture Prize winnings will help fund continued testing.

From Texas Tech University:

Two alums of the University have donated funding to establish a new program known as the Industry Advancement Technology (iAT) Accelerator. Launched this year with a generous donation from Jim McCarley and Hank Dorris, it is a new track in the Texas Tech Accelerator program that supports entrepreneurs with emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced manufacturing, and robotics.

The gift also helped establish the Club for Innovation, a philanthropic branch of the Innovation Hub at Research Park that cultivates a dedicated community of professionals who are passionate about fostering innovation and entrepreneurs in West Texas. It requires a minimum donation of $10,000 to be a member.

“I wanted to do something that would really put Texas Tech on the map,” Dorris said. “By partnering with the Innovation Hub, the Club for Innovation is putting a structure in place that lets Texas Tech build a sustainable pipeline of entrepreneurial spirit now and into the future.”

This gift was a huge milestone for the Hub, creating the first alumni-supported program at the facility. The gift will support the start-up funding for five teams and also allowed the Hub to hire a Program Director for the iAT Accelerator.

From Temple University: 

The Innovation Nest, better known as the iNest, has opened at the Philadelphia, PA university. It offers more than 8,000 square feet of facilities to serve entrepreneurs in the center of Temple’s innovation ecosystem, connecting and guiding researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and startps looking for meaningful partnerships. The facilities include:

  • Wet labs;
  • Cell culture rooms;
  • A Clean room;
  • A Gene sequencing facility;
  • High throughput computing space;
  • Co-working space;
  • Equipped meeting rooms;
  • A Pitch presentation zone;
  • Flex space;
  • A large event space for 100+ attendees; and
  • A café.

Click here to learn more about iNest.

From the University of Cincinnati:

The University’s 1819 Innovation Hub offers a 12-week summer program for student entrepreneurs titled Venture Lab NEXT. Participating student teams will receive $10,000 in non-dilutive funding, empowering them to bring their innovations to life. This funding can be utilized flexibly, whether for developing the start-up itself or supporting team members’ living expenses as they commit full-time to their venture during the summer. Teams are required to submit a detailed funding plan outlining individual milestones they aim to accomplish throughout the program.

“Over the 12-week summer program, student founders will gain the critically important business acumen, experienced mentorship, and deep network to develop, grow, and eventually launch their venture,” said Kate Harmon, Assistant Vice President of the 1819 Innovation Hub and Executive Director of the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

During the VL NEXT summer program, entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIRs), including industry professionals, academic mentors, and technical experts, will be available to support teams with tailored expertise. These mentors will guide student founders in processing information and staying on track with their milestones. Participants can forge connections and map out their startup launch trajectory, leveraging this invaluable networking platform.

From West Virginia University:

West Virginia University (WVU) engineers have received a wave of federal support for research projects that will help slash the cost of clean hydrogen. The three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants for WVU studies total $15.8 million and are part of funds authorized by the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” for research that advances the “Hydrogen Shot” goal of cutting the cost of clean hydrogen production to $1 per kilogram.

The projects happening at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources all focus on improving the manufacture or design of a technology called the “solid oxide electrolysis cell” or SOEC. SOECs split water into hydrogen and oxygen through the process of electrolysis, which is powered by electricity that can come from renewable energy sources.

Edward Sabolsky, Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering, received $9.3 million in DOE support to design a furnace for SOEC manufacturing that uses microwave energy for heat. In the same department, Xingbo Liu, Professor, Associate Dean for research, and Statler Chair of Engineering, leads a research group that received $4.5 million to develop a “proton-conducting” SOEC capable of outperforming conventional “oxygen-conducting” SOECs.

From the University of Houston:

The University recently announced the appointment of two distinguished professionals to key leadership roles within the Office of Technology, Transfer, and Innovation (OTTI) under its Division of Energy and Innovation. These appointments mark a significant step forward in the University’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and partnerships between academia and industry.

Haleh Ardebili, the Kamel Salama Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed as the new Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Start-up Ecosystem, while Michael Harold, Cullen Engineering Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, assumes the role of Assistant Vice President for Intellectual Property and Industrial Engagements. In her new role, Ardebili will oversee the entrepreneurship and startup efforts at the University of Houston. She will be responsible for directing the start-up and entrepreneurship staff within the OTTI, with a focus on advancing faculty and student-related innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives. In his new role, Harold will lead the university’s technology transfer activities, directing the licensing and intellectual property (IP) management staff within OTTI, while also focusing on promoting the generation of intellectual property, managing the university’s IP portfolio, and fostering industry partnerships.

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