Winners Named in 18th Annual $100k New Ventures Competition
Following the culminating Finals to this year’s $100k New Ventures Competition, nine teams across three tracks – General Technology, Healthcare and Life Science, and Social Impact – placed as winners, and the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center (TEC) awarded several prizes in conjunction with the competition.
Addressing the audience, Tufts University President Anthony Monaco welcomed attendees and highlighted the Tufts community’s entrepreneurial grit and determination.
“The current public health crisis may have changed where we are and how we collaborate, but the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation is also fueling invaluable problem solving during this crucial time across the university,” said President Monaco.
After President Monaco’s remarks, Jianmin Qu – Tufts University’s School of Engineering Dean and Karol Family Professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering – commended the participants for their extraordinary efforts.
Dean Qu said, “You have identified something around you that isn’t quite right, and you have had the courage to propose a different way of doing it. The belief that you, your team, and your ideas can improve the lives of others will carry you far beyond this competition.”
This year delivered a series of historic firsts for the $100k New Ventures Competition. TEC held each stage of the competition virtually, extending its reach across time zones and continents while receiving the highest number of applications in program history. The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy’s Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute also teamed up with TEC to offer the inaugural Friedman Food & Nutrition Innovation $10k Prize.
After the initial welcome, the competition branched out into three tracks where finalists pitched before a panel of industry-leading judges, many of whom have had extensive experience launching, advising, and developing start-ups.
“We’re fortunate to have a set of judges here, many of them Tufts alumni, who are practitioners,” said Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute; Director of the MS in Innovation and Management program; and Professor of the Practice. “To have that breadth of experience and opportunity to get their advice and counsel, their critique, is invaluable."
Reflecting on the event, Elaine Chen, Director of Tufts Entrepreneurship Center and Cummings Family Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurship, said, “Congratulations to all the participants and winners of this year’s $100k New Ventures Competition. Out of chaos comes opportunities. Our entrepreneurs found these opportunities, acted on them, and are now poised to change the world. Their passion and dedication to solving society’s biggest problems are truly inspirational.”
Learn more about the finalists and awards below:
The Paul and Elizabeth Montle Prize
Winners: Matthew Alswanger, A21, Lenor Levy, BFA + BS ‘23, and Griffen Saul, A21
The Montle Prize for Entrepreneurial Achievement is an annual competition that helps kick-start future leaders in the business and non-profit world. Paul Montle, a 1969 alumnus, created the award to commend outstanding Tufts students who demonstrate entrepreneurial skills.
Stephen and Geraldine Ricci Interdisciplinary Prize
Winner: Cerobex Drug Delivery Technologies
The Stephen and Geraldine Ricci Interdisciplinary Prize is awarded annually within the $100k New Ventures Competition. The purpose of the prize is to promote the advancement of research at Tufts through projects that assist in translation of research discoveries from the laboratory to applications that benefit society.
The Friedman Nutrition Innovation Institute Prize
The Friedman Food & Nutrition Innovation $10k Prize, sponsored by the Tufts Food & Nutrition Innovation Institute, is a $10k prize awarded at the Tufts $100k Entrepreneurship Competition. For 2021, qualifying teams entering the Tufts $100k will be invited to also compete for the Friedman Food & Nutrition Innovation $10k Prize.
First Place: Winno
Team members: Daniel Lewis, A20, and Nicholas Rubin
“Winno is the fastest way to stay on top of the day’s events. Our award-winning app is built for a mobile attention span, condensing stories into atomized updates and bringing digital news beyond the 600-word made-for-print model.”
Second Place: Paraphai
Team member: Rob Greenberg, E19
“Paraphai is an AI-driven sports memorabilia authentication platform. Leveraging Computer Vision and Machine Learning technologies, our platform authenticates autographs, notably in sports and entertainment, to enable collectors to verify the authenticity of the signature.”
Third Place: Prosal
Team members: Nicholas Lopez, Nyle Malik, and Alfredo Ramirez, F22
“Requests for proposals (RFPs) are challenging, especially when finding and selecting the right candidate. Prosal is the solution: an open and centralized online marketplace that connects RFP issuers with respondents who can fulfill their needs. In time, Prosal will become an AI-supported, end-to-end solution to manage the entire proposal process.”
Cummings Properties Rent Credit: Spectral Key
Team members: Faris Alquaddoomi MSME ’21, Ethan Frisch, MSIM ’21, and Megan Morrissey, MSIM ‘21
“We are developing a novel system for waste heat recovery using Tufts renewable energy technology. We want to take excess heat from the glass-making process and turn it directly into electricity. Our system increases glass-making efficiency while decreasing its cost and its carbon footprint.”
Healthcare & Life Science Track
First Place: Cerobex
Team members: Lia Aftandilian, MSIM ’21, MSBME ’22, Kayla Fisher, MSIM ’21, MSBME ’22, Darian Matini, MSIM ’21, and Benjamin Webb, MSIM ’21, MSME ’22
“Cerobex is developing a novel lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery platform. Our platform is the only technology, demonstrated in animal models, to safely and effectively deliver a wide variety of compounds across the blood-brain barrier, improving existing treatments, and enabling the treatment of currently untreatable neurological diseases”
Second Place: CorePerfrom
Team members: Dasha Agoulnik, MS Nutritional Epidemiology ‘19, and Irina Agoulnik
“CorePerform protein is the first and only plant-based protein to elicit twice the protein synthesis, making it just as effective as whey and is better tasting too. CorePerform protein is optimized for digestion, because as athletes, IT TAKES GUTS TO PERFORM!”
Third Place: Resano Recovery (Recipient of Cummings Properties Rent Credit)
Team members: Nawar AlQabandi, MSIM ’21, Mina Karamercan, MSIM ’21, and Spencer Langdon, MSIM ‘21
“Traditional physical therapy (PT) is ineffective. Resano Recovery makes PT effective using a two-part support system consisting of a wearable device to measure range of motion and an app that shows patients exercises, videos, and connects them with their physical therapist as well as other patients.”
Social Impact Track
First Place: AfriProt
Team members: Collins Sirmah, E16, and Maryanne Chililia
“We create a sustainable source of protein for animal feeds by rearing Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) on low-value organic waste.”
Second Place: ENVOY
Team members: Evan Dietrich, E21, Nivi Nath, E21, and Andrew Wang, E21
“ENVOY is a software system enabling real-time conversation between American Sign Language signers and English-speaking individuals, without a hired translator. Our design is backed by national organizations for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Our long-term goal? Remove communication barriers between 70 million+ individuals, their colleagues, and their loved ones.”
Third Place: Kinfolq
Team member: Timi Dayo-Kayode, A20
“Kinfolq is a social network for Black and Latinx professionals.”
Cummings Properties Rent Credit: Soapbox
Team members: Max Kratzok, MSME ’20, and Alexis Tatore, A20
“Soapbox is a SaaS company that enables political campaigns, issue advocacy groups, and beyond to engage voters online by quickly sending out thousands of unique targeted messages. Our tool has a 63 percent engagement rate, far superior to traditional forms of voter contact.”