Congrats to the 2023 Cozad New Venture Challenge Winners

The Technology Entrepreneur Center in The Grainger College of Engineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Cozad New Venture Challenge. Top Tier Lessons, an online platform that matches college student-athletes with parents in the community looking for sports lessons for their kids, is the grand prize winner in the annual business venture creation competition, winning $45,000 in total investment as the first-place winner at the Cozad Finals event on April 19 at the Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

This year, over $330,000 was awarded in funding and sponsored prizes to Cozad teams to help launch business ventures. The campus-wide program provides mentoring to teams through the phases of venture creation, and resources in idea validation, pitching skills, and customer development. 

Over 40 sponsored prizes were awarded to Cozad startup teams, including:

  • Grand Prize ($40,000): Top Tier Lessons, sports lessons scheduling platform
  • Second Place ($35,000): Sakura MedTech, cervical screening technology and device that increase comfort and accessibility
  • Third Place ($20,000 each): Integrated Dynamics, converting organic waste into environmentally-friendly hydrogen gas, and Beacon, photodynamic therapy that uses light and 5-ALA to selectively ablate cancer and extend life for glioblastoma patients
  • Fourth Place ($5,000 each): Zite AI, helps small business owners select the perfect location to open their business, increase revenues, and reduce the risk of failure; Hatch, an AI recruitment platform that allows recruiters to simplify workflow and rank hundreds of applicants in seconds; Enviro RegTech, a B2B SaaS company that is overhauling safety by leveraging algorithms and Occupational Safety and Health Administration data to optimize compliance

The campus-wide competition kicked off in early February with over 100 competing teams representing 11 colleges. The teams attended 4 workshops on customer discovery, value proposition, financials, and presentation skills, besides optional skills development workshops. Nearly 90 startup teams made it to the Demo Showcase that took place on April 13 at the Illinois Conference Center in Champaign, Illinois. The teams pitched their startup ideas to about 105 past Cozad alumni, investors, mentors, faculty, sponsors, and partners of the thriving University of Illinois entrepreneurship ecosystem who served as judges.

New this year was the addition of a Healthcare Innovation Track that provided specialized programming to help healthcare solutions teams navigate the complex process of bringing healthcare products to the market. This track awarded investment prizes to Cozad startup teams.

Source: Technology Entrepreneur Center

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