University Entrepreneur Teams Follow in Footsteps of Ron Popeil

If your tastes run more blue-collar, how about the Rod Rescuer being pitched by the team from Loyola Marymount?

While there are plenty of gee-whiz technology products and miraculous medical devices among the 40+ business ideas being pitched this week in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition at The University of Texas at Austin, you’ll also find a few quirky consumer products with a touch of Ron Popeil panache.

This week teams of students from universities around the world converge on Austin Texas for what was once called Moot Corp, the original university investment competition. It is now branded the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, but the basic gig is the same; student teams compete by pitching their new business ideas to panels of flinty mannered investor judges.

You’ll see the patent-pending bone reconstruction solution (Osteocene) from the team at Rice University, and MEMStim, the neurostimulation technology from the University of Michigan. That’s slick science for sure, but if your tastes run more blue-collar, how about the Rod Rescuer being pitched by the team from Loyola Marymount?

Billed as a durable and light-weight fishing rod attachment, the Rod Rescuer releases a buoyant gas-filled balloon that returns your fishing rod to the surface if it become submerged in the water. Allen Scott, who graduates with an MBA in finance this May, came up with the Rod Rescuer after a failed fishing trip with his buddies ended up with his fishing rod sinking to the bottom of the lake. (Scott makes no mention of how many Budweisers were involved in the incident.)

The Rod Rescuer isn’t the only Popeil-like invention being pitched to investors at the Global VLIC.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology is sending their team to tout the MOSE, which is described as a handheld device for mechanical cleaning of oil spills on hard surfaces. There are rotating brushes, a vacuum and compressed air involved, so you’ll agree this would fit well on a TV infomercial. “But wait, there’s more…”

Titin Tech, from Georgia Tech, hawks a patented hyper-gravity training shirt with integrated hydro-gel inserts. As best as I can figure, that translates to “really heavy athletic tees with implants.”

Siam Organic, a company launched at the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, is marketing Jasberry, a new variety of rice that combines “the taste of world-famous Thai jasmine rice and the antioxidant benefits of berry fruits!” According to their website, “It got colorful appeal to the eyes,” and you know how consumers love that.

The coolest of the batch is the VisiRay from the team at the University of Oregon. This wonderous gadget is a 3D camera that can see in and through walls! Imagine the impact on Geraldo Rivera’s career if the VisiRay had been available back in 1986. The company founders see VisiRay as primarily a pest-control solution, which somehow makes it all the more Ronco-esque.

You may ask, do any of these products actually make it to market? The answer is yes, as evidenced by this Progress Report on Previous Competitors, reflecting past competition winners that are funded and in operation. Take note of past runner-up Klymit, from Brigham Young University, which markets outdoor wear filled with Argon gas. Founder Nate Alder does his best to channel Ron Popeil in this instructional video.

Curious to see what other new product wonders are on display this week at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition? Drop by if you’re in Austin…the whole Texas Venture Labs Expo is free and open to the public.


Allen’s Sporting Goods
Loyola Marymount University
The Rod Rescuer is a durable and light-weight fishing rod attachment that prevents the sinking of fishing rods. When submerged, the Rod Rescuer releases a buoyant gas-filled balloon that returns the rod to the surface.  Bright colors and a blinking light identify the location of the resurfaced rod.

Wissenschaftliche Hochschule fur Untemehmensfurung
ALPHAJUMP – Business Network for Committed Students / ALPHAJUMP is the business network for students and enterprises, which interconnects special requirements of university and working life. Committed students present their expertise with business character and create the entrance into their future career. Enterprises convince through a target-group-specific employer branding and use an efficient social media recruiting.

Avant-Garde Technologies, Inc.
Fayetteville State University
Avant-Garde Technologies is promoting “green” technologies. The company’s first product is a patented and reusable zero-gravity growth media allowing consumers to grow annual plants more conveniently. Initially being marketed as a R&D tool for commercial and academic researchers, applications also exist in retail, greenhouse, and space exploration markets.

Carnegie Mellon University
BlackLocus is a SaaS platform that enables SMB online retailers to price their products smarter and faster; 60 times faster!

CaIR Technologies
University of Manitoba
CaIR Technologies is an early stage medical device company.  We are developing the only point of care cholesterol testing device that does not require advance fasting.  Using patented algorithms and infrared technology, we are able to accurately assess cardiovascular disease risk in less than 5 minutes .

Cavelli LLC
University of New Mexico
Creating music is empowering.  The difficulty is, there are few convenient ways to learn and practice.  Instead of having to work with a tutor’s schedule, Cavelli offers users an online, social, learning and creation environment.  Cavelli is a serious website for the casual musician.

CHAR Technologies
University of Waterloo
CHAR Technologies has developed Activated Biochar, a solution for hydrogen sulfide removal for the high growth biogas and landfill gas markets, which is easy to operate, with no chemical additions or waste products produced.  Activated Biochar is created from the low value solid biosolids remaining after the anaerobic digestion process.

ClearBrook Imaging
The University of Texas at Austin
ClearBrook Imaging is a specialty, development-stage, medical device company whose primary focus is developing its intravascular photoacoustic cardiac catheterization imaging technology, which addresses the shortcomings of existing modalities in the cardiac catheterization industry.

cycleWood Solutions
University of Arkansas
cycleWood Solutions, LLC offers a sustainable and profitable alternative to conventional single-use plastic bags.  Our product, the XyloBag, is comprised of a biodegradable lignin-based plastic and biodegrades in 150 days.  We are targeting the $4 billion U.S. plastic bag market.

Centro Global de Innovacion y Emprendimiento A.C.
Enabler is a Computer Control Ecosystem for People with Physical Limitations. It integrates a 3D MEMS based mouse, a virtual keyboard with predictive text and an accessible website that helps disabled people to be integrated into community through work and education.

GalvaPlus Company
Thammasat University
Even with current preventative coating methods, the replacement and correction of steel corrosion in civil construction costs billions of dollars each year in the US alone.  GalvaPlus offers an innovative nickel based alloy galvanization, improving steel corrosion by 4 times, at a lower cost, saving an average customer millions in annual maintenance.

Federal University of Minas Gerais and Fundaco Getulio Vargas
Janus S.A. is a technology and nanoengineering company, which develops magnetic nanostructured products for different applications, especially for water and oil separation processes in oil companies. Janus is headed by a team that combines technical and management knowledge, capable to develop innovative technologies and position these technologies in the market.

Brigham Young University
Kalood is an online platform that connects merchants and consumers. Consumers use the platform to rate deals and be notified when deals they’re interested in are available. Merchants use the platform to measure demand for their store, and to target and send custom deal notifications to consumers who have rated their deals highly.

Carnegie Mellon University allows instructors to create a curriculum online that adapts to what students do not understand, simulating the guidance provided in a one-on-one learning session. LearnBop aims to empower instructors by providing a customized learning experience to each student.  With LearnBop, instructors teach the student not the class.

Medtric Biotech
Purdue University
Medtric was founded in 2010 on a vision to deliver clinically robust and economically sensible wound care solutions. Medtric is pioneering a unique method of destroying bacteria for the prevention and treatment of infected wounds. This technology represents a new class of antimicrobials that combat infection and promote wound healing.

University of Michigan
MEMStim designs and produces neurostimulation leads capable of providing directed and specific nerve fiber electrical stimulation.  Our patented technology enables medical device companies to eliminate costly manual assembly processes while creating the next generation of neurological therapies.  MEMStim is a fabless design house utilizing integrated circuit manufacturing techniques.

Northbright Diagnostics
University of Manitoba
Northbright Diagnostics specializes in the development of innovative diagnostics for oral health research and dentists with cost reducing, objective, and more accurate tools used in caries research, and early caries detection devices for patients.

O2 Insights
Ohio State University
O2 Insights is commercializing a revolutionary oxygen diagnostic that meets a critical need in the growing 6.5M patient chronic wound market. The system has received strong buy-in from thought leaders in wound care. The technology will be brought to market for $4M (plus overhead) over the next three years.

Rice University
Osteocene is offering patent-pending, new bone reconstruction solution (Osteoplex) consisting of novel bone cement (Osteoply) and drug-releasing microspheres (NanoBX). Our product offers unmatched performance in following aspects: infection control, mechanical durability, tissue biocompatibility, and ease of use (for surgeons). Osteocene will target $334M segment of bone reconstruction market.


Dalhousie University
One in four patients who undergo surgery involving general anesthesia suffer permanent brain damage that is partially caused by toxins, produced by a currently used anesthesia device.  Purisorb Inc. has invented a revolutionary new device that replaces the existing technology, completely eliminates toxin production, is safe, and saves hospitals money.

Swinburne University of Technology
Relivit will establish and operate factories that will convert dirty waste into clean energy. / The ‘factories’ will be advanced recycling facilities, diverting niche waste streams from landfill, utilizing a proven treatment system under license to recover valuable resources (such as plastics and metals) and generate renewable energy.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong
RetinScan provides an automatic identification of retinopathy with non-invasive diagnosis technology to reduce the risk of sight loss caused by diabetes.  The cost-saving technology helps healthcare providers effectively manage diabetic patient care across the globe.  The scalable innovation will revolutionize the healthcare system for all markets in the world.

Reveal Design Automation
University of Michigan
Reveal Design Automation designs and sells an automated software solution for performing comprehensive formal verification of digital logic designs to key customers in the IC design industry. Reveal’s technology, based off University of Michigan research, scales to handle more complex designs with less time and with fewer people than existing verification solutions.

Siam Organic Company Limited
Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration
Siam Organic is the exclusive provider of Jasberry™, a new variety of rice that combines the delicious taste of the famous Thai Jasmine rice and the powerful nutritional and antioxidant benefits exceeding those of blueberry, with IP protection under New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and strong social benefit to farmers.

Universidad de los Andes
Current vascular grafts for replacing damaged blood vessels require replacement after 1-5 years. SiSgraft is a breakthrough technology that restores the quality of life since it not only replaces, but REGENERATES blood vessels, thus eliminating further risks and costs due to graft failure, such as reoperations and life-risking cardiovascular events.

Sonas, LLC 

University of Oregon
Sonas, LLC will commercialize and deploy Rho, a container screening technology that identifies liquid in a sealed container. There are currently no other technologies with this capability. We will target the air cargo industry, providing increased efficiency and cost savings to our customers while capitalizing on federal regulations.

University of Western Ontario
Stathletes’ is a sport statistics company whose core product is a proprietary database containing thousands of data points on every analyzed game.  The database is both populated and accessed using custom-built software.  These systems assist customers with decision making as it relates to drafting, acquiring, trading and signing athletes.

Student Competitions AB
Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship
Student Competitions AB manage a global talent pool for whom we market and organize academic- and skills based competitions. We create value for companies by improving their recruitment- and innovation processes by organizing engaging internal and external contests, where both employees and students are involved in solving problems.

E. M.  Lyon
Based on a patented technology, TegereTec conceives and markets cutting-edge impact dispersion solutions. Initially aimed at leading manufacturers of protective helmets and equipment TegereTec’s solutions will be integrated into existing products thus enhancing the image of TegereTec’s clients while creating maximum value for the end-users who will be safeguarded knowing that their purchases have TegereTec innovation inside.

Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The MOSE is a handheld device for mechanical cleaning of oil spills on hard surfaces. The concept consists of a rotating brush system connected to a compressed air/vacuum-system, where absorbent is used to facilitate the collection of spills. Mechanical dispersion, incorporation and removal of absorbent makes the process efficient in all aspects; resource consumption, performance and HSE (health, security and environment).

Johns Hopkins University
TheraCord is a medical device venture out of Johns Hopkins University developing a disruptive technology to optimize the collection of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative therapies that could treat over 300 million people worldwide.


University of Arkansas
TiFiberTM has an exclusive license to prepare Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) into nano-fibers for use in filtration systems, aerospace, thermoplastics, textiles, and medical applications.  The patent pending process delivers a product which can be molded into any shape, withstands temperatures of 2700degrees F, and is self-cleaning.

Titin Tech
Georgia Tech
Titin’s mission is to provide the absolute best in athletic training apparel. Titin’s weighted clothing is a patented hyper-gravity training shirt with integrated hydro-gel inserts. We strive to position ourselves at the top of the market in terms of comfort, performance, usability, and results.

TNG Pharmaceuticals
University of Louisville
TNG Pharmaceuticals has developed a revolutionary vaccine that will alleviate the negative impact of the horn fly, considered the most health depleting and economically damaging pest of cattle.  FlyVax is targeted to reduce the number of horn flies per cow, leading to increased farmer efficiency, production, and lower pesticide use.

V-Chain Solutions Inc.
Kennesaw State University
V-Chain Solutions improves business response by enabling companies to detect, analyze and solve problems deep in their supply chain sooner and respond with prompt, precise, accurate solutions. We offer user centric decision support products that enable users to respond faster to changing conditions in the marketing place.

University of Oregon
VisiRay Inc. will introduce a revolutionary camera – the VisiRay – that can see in and through walls and surfaces and produces a clear 3D image of what is hidden inside. The VisiRay will increase the performance of inspection-focused companies by enabling professionals to non-invasively reveal what is hidden from the eye.

Vocal Media
The University of Texas at Austin
Vocal Media is a low-end disruption to traditional advertising media that targets hard-to-reach, ethnic immigrant populations living in America.  When callers place an international call, a sponsored audio clip with appealing content is played in the target audience’s first language before the call connects.

XZell Laboratory
Thammasat University
DenkiTector, offers the only early stage “severe” dengue fever diagnostic tool, providing a means for early treatment, saving lives where more than 100 million people are affected annually.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s