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Startup companies with ties to @OhioStateECE win big in business

Several startup companies with ties to @OhioStateECE walked off this week with big wins at the Ohio State University's Business Plan Competition.

With technology based in the work of ECE Research Associate Professor Chi-Chih Chen, company Nikola Labs took away the first place Clean Energy Award, sponsored by the Ohio State Office of Energy and Environment. ECE Assistant Professor-Clinical Wladimiro Villarroel served among the mentors for the students involved. Nikola Labs also took first place in the Open Track portion of the competition. The company is partly owned by IKOVE, a venture capital company with ties to Ohio State ECE alumni.

The winning business plan is centered on new technology that uses the already-existing energy of the cell phone to charge itself, through the help of the Nikola Labs phone case product "Harvest." Listen to Travis Jones from Nikola explain the product in detail HERE.

Winning the undergraduate track and $5,000 was The Flexidesk, a portable workstation capable of charging any USB device and supporting more than 30 pounds. Ohio State team members include electrical and computer engineering student Ian Hansborough and chemical engineering student Greg Miller. Read about their work leading up to the win in this article out of Avon Lake HERE. Check out their Kickstarter video as well.

Also with ties to ECE, Buckeye SmarterImage (now called NeuroCognetix) took second place in the open track competition. This team is made up of engineering PhD students in both ECE and BME, including leader Safa Salman (PhD ECE), Markus Novak (PhD ECE), Micheal Bush (PhD BME), ATM Sarwar (PhD ECE) and John Lockwood (MBA).

NeuroCognetix was awarded for its patent-pending MRI Motion Correction System (MCS). This system helps improve MRI brain and head scan quality by eliminating the effects of patient movement during the scan. By using a camera and proprietary software algorithm, the MCS tracks and compensates for patient motion in real time. As a result, an unusable scan caused by patient movement could be rendered usable.

"We are initiating collaboration with the department of radiology, Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging, Wexner Medical Center and MRI manufacturers," Salman said, regarding the team's current plans.

NeuroCognetix soon competes in the National Institute of Health’s Neuro Start-Up Challenge to obtain the license to commercialize its technology.

To learn more about NeuroCognetix, check out its competition page HERE.

The Ohio State Fisher College of Business holds the annual competition, which seeks to help stimulate and nourish the entrepreneurial spirit of full-time and part-time Ohio State University students. In particular, the competition encourages entrepreneurially-oriented graduate and undergraduate students to develop and grow new ventures based on their own ideas and technologies. It provides educational workshops to develop their ideas and pitch ventures to investors. Mentors then give constructive feedback for increasing the probability of successfully launching their ventures. The best business plans are given resources to assist the winning student teams in launching their ventures.

First place winners, Nikola Labs LLC, provides wireless power technology to customers who need to stay connected in an ever-increasing mobile world.

"Current mobile users feel the pain of losing connectivity due to power loss which has created a market for devices which aim to solve this problem, although mobile battery packs and cases are often bulky and inconvenient," the company wrote.

As explained, Nikola Labs first product in the wireless power market is the cellular phone case (Harvest) which aims to "harvest" the energy transmitted by the cell phone during data and voice communications as well as during Wi-Fi connectivity.

"Devices transmit high power signals during these states, however, the majority of the power transmitted by the phone is wasted in the surrounding space before reaching the targets. Nikola Labs products will revolutionize the way our world powers electronic devices while supplementing the current technologies already in the market," the company wrote.

To watch a video about the competition and learn more about the annual awards, visit the Fisher College of Business writeup about the event: