2015 Innovation Awards to Continue to Promote Southeast Ohio Entrepreneurs

Ohio University’s Innovation Awards Gala returns to Athens on March 31. This year marks the event’s third annual iteration, which recognizes creative development in southeast Ohio in five categories and awards the prestigious Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.

The Innovation Awards are hosted by TechGROWTH Ohio, an organization dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and technology-based business activity in the region. This year the Innovation Awards will bestow honors for Entrepreneur of the Year, Outstanding Faculty Innovation, Outstanding Woman in Innovation, Outstanding Social Innovation, and Outstanding Student Innovation, categories that reflect the gala’s continued commitment to promoting diversity in southeast Ohio’s entrepreneurship.

Award recipients have a chance to network with other innovators in their area. The event’s publicity also spreads awareness of their developments.

In 2014, the gala recognized Chad Mourning and Scott Nykl, founders of Affine Technologies, with the Outstanding Student Innovation award.  Mourning credits the award with giving him the third-party validation needed to assure him of his goals with Affine Technologies.

“Any time you have to put down in words what you accomplished in a given year, it really adds to your perspective,” said Mourning, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering and computer science at Ohio University.

Gerardine Botte, Russ Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Ohio University, won the Outstanding Faculty Innovation award in 2014 for her work developing a clean coal-to-graphene process.  She expressed appreciation for the awards’ advertising possibilities.

“One of the exciting things is that the awards are reviewed by a panel from many places,” Botte said. “Some of them are patent lawyers, or people less connected with innovation, so the fact that [the coal-to-graphene process] got recognized by them means there is value here and that makes people think about the process more.”

Mathew Blankenhorn, the vice-chairman of the board of directors at Aluminastic Corporation and recipient of the Outstanding Green Innovation award in 2014, cited the gala with raising awareness as well. Aluminastic develops specialty nano-composite metals produced from 100 percent recycled materials.

“Because of this award we were able to educate the public; most people did not understand that 100 percent recycled aluminum products were possible,” he said.

The awards also can have a social impact. Michelle Greenfield, the CEO of Third Sun Solar, received the 2014 Outstanding Woman in Innovation award.  Her company is a full-service provider of clean energy systems in the Midwest and is recognized as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise through the state of Ohio’s Unified Certification Program.

Greenfield believes recognition of disadvantaged people in business can begin to shift the power structure of industries such as solar energy, which is a traditionally male-dominated field.

“The public recognition of our solar company, run by a woman, will hopefully have a ripple effect in influencing more women to look at solar as a possible field for a job or career,” she said.

Greenfield also expressed hope that the recognition would be a step toward driving solar power into the mainstream.

The Awards Gala brings together a powerful group of entrepreneurs and inventors for an evening of celebration and mingling that pays off later, Botte said.

“I look forward to collaborating with all those other faculty innovators and all the other people in the Innovation Awards,” Botte said.  “[The awards] might create a good synergistic group of people that end up working together later.” For example, she and Blankenhorn are planning a joint Small Business Innovation Research proposal with Ohio University next year.

This year’s gala will take place in the Baker Center Ballroom, beginning with a reception at 6 p.m. to be followed by dinner and an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Finalists for 2015 have been announced, and can be viewed here.

Article Written By: Hannah Koerner


BMEidea Competition

Attention biomedical and bioengineering students! Do you have a solution to a real world medical problem? You could win up to $10,000 in BMEidea competition.

BMEidea is a premier competition in the nation that focuses on health-related technology that addresses a real clinical need. The top prizes are $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500.

The deadline for entries is Friday, April 4, 2015. The award ceremony is in June of 2015.

Entries are judged on:

  • technical, economic and regulatory feasibility
  • contribution to human health and quality of life
  • technological innovation
  • potential for commercialization

There is an additional competition for undergraduates specifically called BMEStart. The deadline for this competition is May 22, 2015.  For more information click here.

Marketing Symposium feat. Papa John’s!

marketingThe Ohio University’s Marketing Department is hosting the Marketing Symposium 2015 featuring keynote speaker John Schnatter, Founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza. The Symposium will be held Thursday, March 26th, 2015 from 10:00am to 4:20pm in Walter Rotunda.

Papa johnsThe Keynote Speaker & Exclusive Networking Lunch (proceeds benefit AMA-Ohio Chapter) are SOLD OUT. However, all afternoon sessions are free. The information from these presenters will be invaluable. Join everyone for a fun day learning through some great speakers.



Become an Emerging Leader!

The College of Business boasts multiple impressive leadership opportunities. However, to increase student involvement and access, another program is being added! Check out the new Emerging Leaders program that will be offered next year. Don’t miss out on this transformational opportunity to get involved at Ohio University. The College describes this program as “a new academic program offered to students with good academic performance (approximately 3.0 or higher) combined with an interest in growing their leadership and career portfolio.” The specifics are as follows:

  • One-year program targeted to current sophomores beginning their junior year. Current juniors may be considered if they recently transferred into the college.
  • The goal is to provide students who missed admission to other selective programs or recently transferred, the opportunity to participate in a selective program focused on career and leadership development.
  • Students selected will participate in a two-credit hour course each semester next year.
  • Students will also be expected to be actively engaged in the speaker series and other out-of-class opportunities offered.
  • Candidates for Emerging Leaders cannot be part of Select Leaders, HTC, or the College of Business Honors program.

If you are interested, please keep your eye out for upcoming information via email.

Successful Startup Weekend!

Photo Credit: Startup Weekend Facebook page

Photo Credit: Startup Weekend Facebook page

The Center for Entrepreneurship sponsored Startup Weekend, and we are happy to say the event was a success! An exciting, fast paced weekend, there were 32 attendees bustling around pitching upwards of 20 plus ideas with 8 total sponsors supporting this amazing event.

This 54 hour event centers on developing an idea with potential. Teams are formed around ideas, and startups are formed around ideas. The weekend is full of excitement and innovation. There are hundreds of Startup Weekends held around world each year. Ohio University’s Innovation Center hosts the Athens event, which attracts amazingly talented individuals each time.

A panel of judges vote on which idea to award the top prize. Subbit, the newest winner, was awarded $3,635. This business would connect people looking to sublease with people looking for subleasers and facilitate secure payment. Subbit’s creators are Phillip Cook, Drew Harper, David Alexander, Yonry Zhu and Marcus Yeagle.

The second place went to a Smart Headband which would alert athletes to potential concussions in real time and was awarded $1,920. And the third place was awarded to Job Flirt which connects millennials with employers that want to hire them and was awarded $670.

Check out the next Startup Weekend! For more information check out the article from the Office of Research Communications and from the Athens Messenger.