USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase Awards Over $30K to Student Startups

USC student-led startup, Auxomel, won the $10,000 Most Innovative and $2,500 Venture Validation awards at the 10th Annual USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase held on October 7, 2016. USC Ostrow School of Dentistry student, Kaushik Mukherjee received the award from Jennifer Dyer, USC Stevens Executive Director, and Dr. Peter Kuhn, Master of Ceremonies. (Photo by Michael Chou)

By Peijean Tsai, USC Stevens Center for Innovation, October 18, 2016

Recently, the 10th Annual USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase was held on October 7, 2016 during Trojan Family Weekend. The USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase is the flagship event of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation, which has the mission to maximize the translation of USC research into products for public benefit through licensing, collaborations, and the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation. USC Stevens hosts and sponsors this showcase to provide USC student entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their inventions and startup ideas from various disciplines to the USC and business community.

The Showcase has distributed $117,600 in prizes since it began in 2007. Winning teams in the past have used the prize funding – and the experience of participating in the Showcase – to propel their actual businesses forward.

During the daylong event held at USC’s University Park Campus, 24 student teams competed for $31,200 in awards sponsored by the following: USC Stevens Center for Innovation, Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund at USC Marshall School of Business, USC Marshall Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, USC Marshall Center for Global Innovation, Daniel Floersheimer, and Dun & Bradstreet.

The day’s activities celebrated innovation and entrepreneurship, featuring a Keynote Address by Honored Guest Mark Stevens, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists and benefactor to the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. In a talk titled “The Future of Entrepreneurship,” Stevens talked about the next trends of innovation, from personalized medicine to artificial intelligence and robotics changing the near future.

Stevens also offered encouragement to student entrepreneurs in attendance: “Be curious. Be passionate. Be thoughtful, and be fair,” Stevens told an audience of over 150 individuals. “Most importantly of all, have fun along the way.”

The winners of the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase represented the breadth and depth of technologies at USC from various professional disciplines such as dentistry, healthcare, interactive media, and clean water access.

The winner of the $10,000 USC Stevens Most Innovative award went to Auxomel, a student startup from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Auxomel is  developing a peptide-gel prototype to regrow superficial human tooth enamel and slow tooth decay. The project was represented by Kaushik Mukherjee, a USC doctoral dentistry student. Auxomel also won the $2,500 Venture Validation award sponsored by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School for Business.

“The Student Innovator Showcase was an excellent training exercise for aspiring innovators such as our team to assess the commercial readiness of our technology in the real world,” said Mukherjee. The awards will help fund the clinical translation and commercialization of Auxomel’s prototype, including conducting testing and covering regulatory expenses for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mukherjee added.

Crowd.Game, which has created a large-scale interactive crowd gaming platform for live events such as sports games and conventions, earned the $10,000 award for Best Business Concept, a prize sponsored by the Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund of the USC Marshall School of Business. Crowd.Game was led by Benjamin Skaggs and Bryan Edelman, alumni of the Interactive Media and Games department of the USC School of Cinematic Arts with Jimmy Tanner, a computer science doctoral student in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

“As a team completely dedicated to making the world more fun and interactive, we’ve collectively poured an incalculable amount of our time, effort, and resources into turning our idea into a viable business. We’ve all had to make sacrifices, whether it was any savings we had or any sort of stability in our lives,” said Skaggs. “This award gives us some tangible evidence that those sacrifices weren’t in vain…this award will be used to push us, further and faster, into the future as we realize our vision of what crowd gaming can be.”

For its water filter technology that aims to provide affordable access to clean water, Aqus won $5,000 for the Daniel Floersheimer Global Impact prize, which awards the project with the greatest potential reach to benefit society worldwide.

Feel Image, which is aiming to help the visually challenged with its technology, won the $2,500 Most Potentially Disruptive award sponsored by the USC Marshall Center for Global Innovation.

Toolbot won $1,200 for the Trojan Family Choice Award, the one prize selected by popular vote of event attendees. The company has developed versatile modular gadgets for photography and videography, easing the need to carry bulky camera equipment.

For the all-day event, 24 student teams spent the morning presenting their startup ideas and prototypes to the invited judges from the business community and to event attendees. The top 10 scoring teams advanced to an afternoon finalist round where each gave a 3-minute pitch about their businesses. The pitches were then scored by the judges to select the final awards. The judges included individuals from Augmentum Advisors, Dun and Bradstreet, Facebook, T.R. Winston, Salem Partners, Rexter, and USC Stevens.

“We congratulate the winners and all the student teams that applied and competed in this year’s USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase. USC Stevens is proud to be an integral part of the USC entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Vasiliki Anest, Senior Director, USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

The competition’s teams were selected from a larger pool of applicants, as USC Stevens held an open call for applications for all USC undergraduate and graduate students, starting in Spring 2016. Students who earned a spot in the Showcase were from a wide range of disciplines, including Keck School of Medicine of USC, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, USC Marshall School of Business, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC Annenberg School for Communications, and the USC School of Architecture.

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Left to right: Honored Guest and Keynote Speaker Mark Stevens, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists and benefactor to USC Stevens Center for Innovation, spoke about the future of entrepreneurship at the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase; Bryan Edelman, an alumnus of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, demonstrates his team’s technology, Crowd.Game, an interactive crowd gaming platform for live events, conventions and sports games; Kevin Kassel, USC Marshall School of Business student, delivers his business pitch about his startup Aqus, which creates affordable water filters.

 

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Left to right: Khashayar Dolat showcases his USC Viterbi team’s startup Toolbot, which creates versatile modular gadgets for photography and videography; the $10,000 award for Best Business Concept, a prize sponsored by the Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund, as represented by sponsors and judges Julia Metcalfe and Robert Shotwell (pictured in center) went to Crowd.Game, a startup led by alumni of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a computer science student in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; Archana Bettadapur, USC Viterbi School of Engineering student, pitches her team’s startup FlexSpecs, which provides affordable, self-adjusting eyeglasses. FlexSpecs was one of 10 finalists out of 24 teams at the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase. For more photos, check out the USC Stevens Facebook album. All pictures by Michael Chou.

 

COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS:

USC Stevens Most Innovative Award $10,000
Project shows the most innovative approach to problem solving overall, and has the most potential to alter its industry.
Auxomel (developing a peptide-gel prototype that can regrow superficial human tooth enamel and arrest the progress of tooth decay)

Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund Best Business Concept Award $10,000
Awarded to the project demonstrating the best business model to be financially viable in the marketplace.
Crowd.Game (created a large-scale interactive crowd gaming platform for live events, such as sports games and conventions)

Daniel Floersheimer Global Impact Award $5,000
Awarded to the project which has the greatest global reach to benefit society and a demonstrated plan for scalability and sustainability.
Aqus (water filters that provide affordable access to clean water)

USC Marshall Center for Global Innovation Most Potentially Disruptive Award $2,500
Project most likely to completely transform its marketplace by making previous solutions obsolete.
Feel Image (developed a product that helps the visually challenged to feel the image in front of them by rising solenoids taking the shape of the object’s contour)

Lloyd Greif Center Venture Validation Award $2,500
Awarded to the project closest to market with the most progress gaining market traction including securing investors, funding and marketing.
Auxomel (developing a peptide-gel prototype that can regrow superficial human tooth enamel and arrest the progress of tooth decay)

Trojan Family Choice Award $1,200
Project voted most popular the attendees of Trojan Family Weekend.
Toolbot (versatile modular gadgets for autonomous photography and videography)

Each student participating in the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase was also gifted a Dun and Bradstreet small business starter kit valued at $999 each.

For a complete list of all participating teams, see our event program.