Cozad New Venture Challenge finals is April 25


Mike Koon, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

One of last year's Cozad winners was Autonomic Energy Systems.
One of last year's Cozad winners was Autonomic Energy Systems.
The entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive on the University of Illinois campus and one of the best examples of that fact are the creative innovations demonstrated through the Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC). Since 2001, Cozad annually helps launch teams, who go on to secure hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in external funding and turn their ideas into fledgling startups.

The culmination of the three-month long competition is Wednesday, April 25 when the remaining 47 teams vie for more than $225,000 in cash funding and in-kind prizes to advance their ventures and the prestige of calling themselves Cozad winners. The 18th annual CNVC finals take place at the I-Hotel and Conference Center on the Illinois campus and the public is invited to attend. Teams will be showcasing their projects from 9:30-11:45 in Illinois Ballroom B &C. The judges will narrow the field and those finalists will make formal presentations from 1:35-3 pm in Illinois Ballroom A. Winners will announced at 3:30 pm.

For 18 years the Cozad New Venture Competition has highlighted and accelerated startups in the University of Illinois community. Teams are invited to create a venture of their choice, and CNVC then assists teams by providing mentors, workshops to help with idea validation, pitching skills, as well as courses and presentations to enhance their skills and knowledge. This year the competition was completely revamped.  Instead of facing elimination after an early round of elevator pitches as in CNVC’s previous years, every team that submitted an intent to compete had the opportunity to set up their demo at the finals event as long as they have attended each of the specially designed workshops and completed all deliverables. This change was implemented to give students a chance to more fully develop their ideas.

Past CNVC winners include: Reconstruct, a visual data analytics platform for construction; Cast21, which is revolutionizing medical cast design. The 2017 winners were Trala, which is creating a way to learn how to play the violin from a mobile device, and Autonomic Energy Systems, which is setting out to extend the lifetime of lithium ion batteries.

Besides the grand prizes, some of the other top awards include the Dr. Paul Magelli Innovation Prize of $10,000 from IllinoisVENTURES, six months of shared office space in Urbana from [col][lab], free legal services from Meyer Capel, and incubation space and resources from EnterpriseWorks for 12 months.

The CNVC is hosted by the University of Illinois College of Engineering’s Technology Entrepreneur Center. Created in 2001, the TEC provides students and faculty with the skills, resources, and experiences necessary to become successful innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, who tackle grand challenges and change the world.

A snapshot of participating Cozad teams:

AdSkipper: AdSkipper is Spotify Premium for radio, listen to personalized music while skipping ads and chatter.
Agrimy Agriculture: Agrimy Agriculture eliminates agricultural waste for farmers by providing on-site, eco-friendly bioreactors that use earthworms and microbes to 
convert waste into useful fertilizer.
AutoPat: AutoPat is a simple-interface log file monitor for compliance and auditing.
Carobar: Carobar seeks to trap CO2, a greenhouse gas, and sell it as a product to industries employing it as a reactant in a process.
Coin: Coin allows users to track spending and find new ways to save with this intelligent money-managing platform.
Context-Aware Interactive (CAI) Robotic Platform: Context-Aware Interactive Robotic Platform is developing an expressive robotic platform that can be implemented with low-cost hardware like LEDs and off-the-shelf servo motors, but outperforms the user engagement of competitor products through context-aware interactivity and dynamic behavior.
Convey Software: Convey Software is an automated survey insight at scale.
CradleCare: CradleCare has developed a device to help solve the problem of undetected acid reflux in infants and young children.
Creative Souls: Creative Souls provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities one Creative Soul at a time.
Crushd: Crushd is a mobile application that allows for people to go on 30 second video chat speed dates which acts as a more natural dating experience.
Cut to the Case: Cut to the Case is a secure, online reporting platform that aims to empower victims of sexual assault and harassment by connecting them to one another to identify repeat offenders.
Dibbs: Dibbs is a real-time platform connecting excess food from local grocery stores to food agencies to reduce food waste and hunger.
Dounet: Dounet provides a distributed internet protocol that rewards network participation with cryptocurrency, and develops implementation and infrastructure for such a protocol.
Find My Shoe: Find My Shoe implements discrete tracking technology for those who wander, such as children and people with dementia, in order to provide safe independence for the user.
FormPlayer: FormPlayer is a SaaS-based digital experience management platform that helps organizations leverage data to make smart and informed decisions by capturing feedback at multiple touchpoints and turn them into actionable insights.
Fraktl: Fraktl is a tree-based online forum with a focus on surfacing content from 
branches to facilitate content discovery and an advanced filtering system for customized user experiences.
froxii: Friends in your proximity: froxii answers “where is everyone?” seamlessly and securely.
GoGo Garden Tools: GoGo Garden Tools offers innovative gardening products from gardeners for gardeners.
GrayMatters: GrayMatters is developing a sensor which detects concussions in a cheap and accessible manner for the safety and awareness of bikers.
Great Mind Exchange: Great Mind Exchange is a specialized recruiting service platform that bridges 
the gap between all kinds of college students who are seeking internship opportunities at early-stage startups in the greater Chicago Area.
HexNest: HexNest is a new design of gymnastics pads and other impact dampening equipment with increased ability for optimization which results in improved safety and dramatic price reduction.
Intonation Pianos: Intonation Pianos is making a segmented piano keyboard so musicians can keep their pianos in limited space areas.
Jetson Robotics: Jetson Robotics is developing a distributed robotic system for cleaning a variety of commercial spaces including offices, factories, and other industrial facilities.
Learning Boost: Learning Boost is a personalized, convenient, peer-based academic support system for the average college student.
Lillipad: Lillipad brings accountability and organization to bedsore monitoring by sending patient position status wirelessly to a master monitoring queue, expectantly narrowing the near 60,000 deaths per year associated with bed-bound stagnation.
Lumos: Lumos is developing a method of converting nuclear waste into clean, renewable electricity.
Majesty Safe: Majesty Safe has identified the danger of people looking at their smartphones when crossing streets, and seeks to build a product that is environment-friendly and low-cost to solve this problem.
Menu3:Menu3 makes augmented reality restaurant menus.
OdysseyPass: OdysseyPass is TurboTax for travel visa applications. 
Optivolt Labs, LLC: Optivolt Labs has developed an extremely efficient method for transferring solar power to consumer electronics batteries allowing for indoor and outdoor light to be used to charge devices.
Palam Solutions: Palam Solutions brings the drying technology to reduce post-harvest and bring profits back to farmers pockets.
QuillBot: QuillBot is a smart thesaurus for 
Red Clover Reader: Red Clover Reader connects parents with independent authors of children’s 
literature and freelance artists on an online marketplace to empower families in raising successful and well-behaved children through access to “clean” content on-the-go for educational and entertainment purposes.
Rhyme Cat: Rhyme Cat is the world’s first professional level poetry creation tool.
RingWing: RingWing is the world’s first catchable glider.
SmallWorld: SmallWorld is a platform where travelers can browse through a variety of travel experiences based on their unique preferences and budget, see their friends’ travels, follow interesting adventurers, and ultimately have amazing experiences.
SnugMug: SnugMug is a stainless steel, double-walled, collapsible coffee mug that can be effortlessly stowed away anywhere.
SwopShop, LLC: SwopShop is a social e-commerce platform where users can buy, sell, and trade goods in a fun and safe peer to peer format.
The Custaslidz: The Custaslidz offers the shoe for every occasion.
The Get Shifty Project: The Get Shifty Project is a modular system for multi-geared bicycles that will automatically shift gears while the rider pedals. We are looking to patent this device and market the production rights to existing bicycle-oriented groups and companies.
Ticket Avenue (Vignette Avenue): Ticket Avenue aims to streamline the primary ticket market by improving the ticket-buying user experience via eliminating scalping, reducing fees, and offering a clean, immersive app to interact with.
Turkbox: Turkbox makes mechanical turk and crowdsourced data classification transparent and fun.
Tympana: Tympana offers toggle-able hearing protection for young musicians. provides a virtual reality tour platform for rental property owners to showcase their unit to global prospective renters.
Vitrix Health: Vitrix Health aims to innovate sensors, software, and services for disease prevention, screening, and diagnosis in the developing world. Right now, we’re using optical technology and machine learning to screen for oral and cervical cancer.
VRPlay: VRPlay improves the VR experience through affordable, intuitive user input methods and rendering optimization. 
YourTurn: YourTurn offers turn-by-turn navigation, all from your pocket.