Idea to Product Campus Round Names Five Winners

TEC News Stories

10/21/2011 4:55:00 PM

Story Highlights

By: Lyndsey Taylor

Urbana, Ill.-(October 21, 2011)-It all started with a dry erase marker, a white board, and five minutes to convince a panel of five judges that their idea was the most innovative.

Judges in the Coordinated Science Lab deliberated for 20 minutes while students waited in anticipation.

Five teams were deemed winners of the Technology Entrepreneur Center's Campus Round of Idea to Product® Competition (I2P®) competition Thursday night: BioDynamics: Active Knee Brace, BioLife, Effimax Solar, Local and Max Secure Outlet Adapter.

As one of the five teams to move on to the next round of competition, Ruth Oserink said BioDynamics' next step is to “refine the design” and to begin to create a prototype.

BioDynamics will be one of five teams to have the chance to advance to the regional round of competition, where they will compete against teams from Illinois and Missouri schools at St. Louis University for funding while gaining mentoring and pitching experience.

If chosen as the winner of the regional round, the team will advance to the Global I2P competition for a chance at a grand prize of $10,000.

Idea to Product, founded at The University of Texas at Austin by the Chair of Free Enterprise, is an early-stage technology commercialization plan competition that aims for unique product ideas with clear market demand that use innovative technologies.

Each year, theTechnology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) holds a campus round of I2P where teams can pitch for prototyping funds and a chance to move on to both the regional and global rounds.

TEC had 17 judges rating the 72 online applications received this year and five in person judges to decide which of the 10 selected front runners would move on.

This year’s in person judges were Lisa Dhar from the Office of Technology Management, Laura Frerichs from the University’s Research Park, Liz Kellner from Singleton Law Firm, Harlee Sorkin of Mentor Management LLC, and Jim Keating from IllinoisVENTURES.

Eleni Antoniadou and Michael McCarty of BioLife said this was their first time competing at I2P. BioLife seeks to build bioreactors by using patients' own cells to “produce multiple grafts and thus allow for testing to make sure they are ready to be implanted.”

Judge Laura Frerichs said, “The students that did present [Thursday] showed a very high level of innovation and very high level of sophistication in their presentation skills.”

This is Frerichs' first year on the I2P judging panel. She said she feels the competition is a “great way for students to get their feet wet.”

Frerich's said she and the judges were looking for students and ideas that would “represent the University well”.

“We were looking for, not only innovative technology, but quality of the presentations,” she said.

Judge Jim Keating has been a part of TEC events for “at least four years.” He said it's crucial for students to refine their ideas by getting feedback from customers. “That will go a long way for them.”

“We felt that they (the winners) were all unique and had some real promise,” Keating said of the five winning teams. “I personally also felt that their prospective markets were under-served.”

Arash Negarandeh of Local (a search-engine site for construction materials) said he felt their win was “a bit unexpected,” but felt his team had a good idea.

Team JIA's idea is to create a cane for the blind with an inserted sensor, gps and earphone to better determine the direction of traffic.

Although JIA was not one of the five teams selected, team member Aslanbeck Amrin said he and his team continue to “come up with more ideas” and said overall the competition was a good experience.

TEC Director Jed Taylor ended the evening by thanking the participants and the TEC staff.

“If you're not a winner tonight, it doesn't mean it was a bad idea,” Taylor said. He encouraged students to “further develop” their ideas through TEC and take advantage of the programming and guidance they offer.

About the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering engages faculty, students, and alumni to provide the education, experiences, and resources that students need to become innovative leaders and empowers them to change the world around them. The Center offers on-site and online engineering classes and online engineering certificate programs for education and professional development with courses in entrepreneurship, business, and technology commercialization. For more information about TEC and the programs they offer, visit their website: or email Danyelle Michelini at

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