Four technology startups are using a combined $200,000 to get innovative new products closer to commercialization. The companies won between $25,000 and $100,000 from the Northeast Ohio pre-seed fund and will use the money to make prototypes, test the technologies, and hire employees.
The founders and their teams came to Lorain County Community College last week to meet the other award winners and share their startup stories.
Two entrepreneurs found a connection in biomimicry; both looked to nature to solve a problem.
Jeff Bargiel looked to nature for a non-toxic and easy way to clear unwanted woody plants from his yard. He founded EntoBio to commercialize an imitation termite spit called Liquid Termite™ that safely and quickly defeats invasive trees, shrubs and vines the same way as nature.
“We have evidence in Ohio and the southeast United States that this works,” Jeff says. “And it’s non-toxic, fast acting, and targeted.”
Now with $100,000 from the Innovation Fund, Jeff can hire employees, build a production system, and start marketing his product.
Emily Kennedy, a Biomimicry Fellow at the University of Akron, also wondered how nature addressed a problem she saw with today’s football helmets.
“We wondered how biological systems absorb shock, because the safety liners in state of the art football helmets have major shortcomings,” Emily says.
She was intrigued by the hedgehog’s ability to drop 30 feet from a tree branch to escape a predator and hit the ground uninjured. Its quills absorb the impact force.
That was the idea behind her company called Hedgemon. It’s creating a patent-pending, shock-absorbing liner made of elongated overlapping polymer ‘quills.’ The $25,000 grant from the Innovation Fund will help Emily and her team build and test a prototype.
While Emily's team works on its hedgehog-inspired lining to fit inside football helmets, Zoltan Mesko and his team are developing a device to put on the outside. His company, Impact Lab Technologies, won $25,000 to further develop the company’s leaf spring technology that absorbs force much like a car’s shocks absorb force.
“It was during my time in the NFL that I realized the debilitating effects of head impacts on longtime athlete,” Zoltan says. “My teammates suffered month-long headaches, nausea, and balance issues.”
He hopes that his company’s hard shell add-on resembling an exoskeleton can decrease the risks associated with a sport he enjoys.
Sport and fitness were behind Robert Kaleal’s startup called Bodies Done Right. He’s using $50,000 from the Innovation Fund to develop virtual training software that improves physical activity.
His patented Avatar Coach Trainer Application works in real time and can be connected to any off-the-shelf heart rate monitor.
“The intensity that your heart beats during a workout plays a significant role in your metabolic rate and how many calories you will burn during that workout,” Robert says. “Our software finds the user’s optimal heart rate range for exercise and then monitors their heart rate throughout so they stay in that zone.”
For more information on these and all of Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio's portfolio companies, visit the portfolio company page.