Past Winners Prove that the Competition Can Lead to Great Things
Since its inception, the InnoVention competition has been an integral component of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s mission to encourage NYU students to develop practical solutions to real-world problems. The goal of the program is to build a vibrant culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that sets contestants on a path to success. For proof that it’s working, look no further than past participants! And if you’re a student wondering whether to dive in yourself, read on for a strong dose of inspiration!
Founder(s): Chris Lysiuk, Nick Molinski, Ada Slusarczyk, Darren Yee
Year of Participation: 2016 Second-Place Winner
Problem Addressed: Construction sites can be chaotic and inefficient places, and although it is meant to provide architecture, engineering, and construction stakeholders with valuable insight and tools, the traditional 3D building modeling process can be needlessly complex.
Solution: Acculis has created a software platform that reduces the complexity of site management with a single collaborative platform and facilitates team communication by providing easier access to accurate 3D models and real-time project data.
How InnoVention Helped: As a result of placing in InnoVention, the team was given a chance to apply to the NYU Leslie eLab’s Summer Launchpad, which honed their focus on entrepreneurship and allowed them to incorporate. Other opportunities then presented themselves, including spots at the NYC Media Lab Combine, the 1776 network of incubators and the Techstars accelerator program.
What’s Happening Now?: Having attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding, the Acculis team is finishing the year with beta testing and exciting pilot programs ready to launch. Although there are non-disclosure agreements in place, stay tuned in the near future for more news.
Founders: Wayne Mackey and Jay Fuller
Year of Participation: 2017 First-Place Winner
Problem Addressed: There are many ways to test and train pro athletes who play conventional sports like baseball and football, but given the growing popularity of eSports, no comparable systems existed for those players.
Solution: Statespace is creating AI-powered training and scouting tools aimed at revolutionizing eSports. Using their software, developed with neuro-scientific principles in mind, gamers can hone their aim, refine their hand-eye coordination, and sharpen their visual acuity, while learning more about their own strengths and weakness. (Are they more or less accurate when targets are on the left vs. the right side of the screen, for example?) Users also contribute data that will help investors, recruiters, and coaches benchmark abilities, build teams, and improve performance during high-stakes matches, making Statespace interesting to a wide variety of stakeholders, including fans building fantasy teams.
How InnoVention Helped: Participating in InnoVention allowed Mackey and Fuller to refine and expand their prototype, and led to their participation in several other competitions. Last year they caught the eye of Expa, an enterprise devoted to helping proven founders further develop their start-ups.
What’s Happening Now?: Soon to move into their own private office space, the company currently has 250,000 beta users, has hired 11 employees and is seeking to hire more, and has attracted $1.5 million in venture capital from Expa, FirstMark, Social Starts, and Joyance (with more to come in the spring).
Founders: Myriam Sbeiti and Daniela Blanco, pictured with Professor Miguel Modestino (left)
Year of Participation: 2018 First-Place Winner
Problem Addressed: An estimated 6 million tons of petrochemical-based nylon is produced worldwide each year, and the process generates significant emissions of carbon dioxide.
Solution: The team developed a technology to make Adipontirile, a key component for the production of Nylon 6,6, using solar energy. They improved the electrochemical production route, reaching unprecedented efficiency values and energy cost reduction through direct solar integration, and they anticipate that the work will be of interest to not only textile manufacturers but anyone seeking greener methods of chemical production.
How InnoVention Helped: The team used their $20,000 prize to further refine their process and prepare for a series of other competition victories, including a $100,000 Technology Venture Prize (part of the NYU Stern $300K Entrepreneurship Challenge and a $20,000 Stage II VentureWell grant.
What’s Happening Now?: Recently returned from the University Startup World Cup in Demark, where they smoked the competition in the Greentech category, Sbeiti and Blanco have incorporated their company and are in the process of scaling up their reactor.