Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second annual IE Challenge awards cash for eight business plans

The winners of the second annual University of Toledo IE Challenge Business Plan Competition were announced on Thursday, November 10 at the annual Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence Hall of Fame Awards at the Pinnacle in Maumee.

“We congratulate all 18 entrants for the extremely high quality proposals they submitted,” noted Richard Stansley, Jr., UT Innovation Enterprises. “These technologically innovative ideas clearly demonstrate creative thinking within the UT campus, which is exactly what this competition strives to foster. We are pleased to see the IE Challenge Business Plan competition become a critical step in developing an innovation system that includes the proper infrastructure and business tools to foster the creation of legitimate new products and services.”

“We believe the winning carefully constructed business plans in this year’s competition form a solid foundation on which these entrepreneurs can build successful businesses,” said Dr. Sonny Ariss, UT College of Business and Innovation (COBI) said. “The College of Business and Innovation is pleased to have coordinated judging of these entries and stands ready to offer guidance to help these teams emerge beyond the University into the community. We want to see these ideas and business plans effectively implemented, creating jobs and enhancing the economic growth of the region.”

The winning proposals, the entrant’s name and a brief description of the winning entries are:

First Place Winner ($10,000) is Sunnyfuels LLC (Mahabala Adiga) Sunnyfuels LLC: The products that Sunnyfuels LLC will be manufacturing will be: 1) Cost-effective, energy efficient PEM/membrane electrolyzers for cheaper hydrogen production from solar, wind, or other power sources and 2) Low cost, light weight portable hydrogen compressors to compress hydrogen greater than 200 psig for small fuel cell generators.

Second Place Winner ($5,000) is Expandable Intervertebral Cage (Mohammad Elahinia) - Expandable Intervertebral Cage will manufacture a shape memory alloy (Nitinol) cage that will be used in the correction of spinal injuries, providing a smaller surgical footprint, leading to a faster recovery period.

Third Place Winner ($2,500) is Nanospection (Christopher M. Hessler) - The products that Nanospection will develop are cost-effective nano gold/silver coated slides which have a number of potential applications such as optical sensing, environmental monitoring and chemical detection.

Honorable Mention ($500)
• (Jake Moritz)
• Dynamic and Smart Systems Lab (Ahmadreza Eshghinejad)
• MySport Highlights (Zac Rosenbauer)
• Resonance Group Ltd. (Jason Owens)
• (Dane Theisen)

Entries for the second IE Challenge Business Plan Competition were due in October. Finalists made an oral presentation about their businesses to a panel of judges on November 3. Prize money is awarded to established business entity, not to the individuals.

UT student on second place team at KeyBank competition

Tiera Austin, a junior majoring in human resources in the UT College of Business and Innovation, participated in the 4th Annual KeyBank Leadership and Creativity Symposium at Ohio State University on November 11 and 12. Her team won their competition bracket and ultimately placed second in the event, with each team member receiving a $750 prize.

The case presented to the students concerned a cell phone company that was having issues with their batteries. Teams had to develop answers surrounding the news media, addressing the company’s stakeholders, and what action they would recommend to the company CEO.

“We knew of the case in advance, but did not know the actual questions until we were at the competition,” Austin said. “You can read about something, but you don’t know what to expect until you get there. But we brainstormed, and I think we were very powerful as a group.”

Austin, who is a COBI Searles ambassador, said she believed she was representing both UT and herself.

“It was a great experience,” she added. “I’m really happy I went; I learned things to further my own future endeavors, and the networking was great. I gained so much out of it, and I would recommend it to others who have an opportunity to participate.”

Other universities represented at the symposium were Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Minnesota, University of Oregon, University of Washington, Case Western Reserve and University of North Carolina.

Brighter surroundings emerge from Stranahan Hall refurbishment project

Stranahan Hall (South), the 25-year-old home of the UT College of Business and Innovation, was brightly transformed by the start of the fall semester with its first ever bottom to top refurbishment.

Chipped paint and traffic-worn carpets yielded to the arrival of gallons of fresh ivory-colored latex paint and contemporary high-traffic-strength floor coverings. From the first to the fifth floors, no room was left untouched.

“Stranahan Hall was ready for this refurbishment project, as it still had the painting and original carpeting from when the building opened more than 25 years ago,” noted Sandy Whitman, Administrative Assistant to the COBI Dean’s office. “With 3,000 students using this building every semester, it was time to address the basics: namely fresh paint, new carpeting and window treatments in each room and hallway, and new lighting in the hallways.”

Refurbishment of the first floor lobby and the fifth floor offices took place during the break between the last fall and spring semesters, while the painting and carpeting of floors two, three and four occurred during the summer to minimize the impact on faculty and students. Classrooms in the ground floor of Stranahan Hall South received fresh paint a couple years ago, so they did not need to be painted this year.

“Making this happen truly required a team effort,” Whitman said. “Every office and conference room in Stranahan Hall South had to be emptied for a few days, so we went through a lot of cardboard boxes and cleaning of files.”

“It’s important to emphasize that the money for this project did not come out of student fees, but from private donations” Whitman said. When donors - - including COBI alumni, faculty and staff - - contributed during the fundraising campaign to build the new Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement, they also contributed $1 million specifically for these physical improvements to Stranahan Hall South.

With just a few exceptions - - such as the new Ph.D. Seminar Room (the previous Neff Trading Room), and classrooms 3056 and 4050 that welcomed new tables and chairs - - the existing furniture from each office found its way back home.
The first floor student lounge went through a little greater transformation as it became a POD, or Provisions on Demand location. It’s a place where all students, faculty and staff can obtain a sandwich, salad, hot slice of pizza or snack.

“Aramark (UT’s food service provider) was looking for a location to provide this service in this area of campus,” Whitman said. “We thought it was an appropriate use of the space and a great idea that would benefit everyone on this side of campus.”

“We encourage the UT community to come see the fresh look to our COBI home, stop by the new POD for something to eat, and, of course, take some business classes in the newly refurbished Stranahan Hall South,” said COBI Dean Thomas Gutteridge.

Third Annual Internet Marketing Conference Draws Crowd

To help area business professionals best use the Internet to promote their products and services, The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation’s Interactive Marketing Initiative presented its Third Annual Internet Marketing Conference on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.

“Innovative marketing tactics and techniques have never been more important than in these continually challenging times,” noted Dr. Iryna Pentina, Co-Director of the UT Interactive Marketing Initiative. “Our third annual event was specifically geared to help businesses improve their ability to use the latest Internet tools to grow their business. The conference was a tremendous success. This year we achieved a record attendance of over 180 participants representing various small and medium businesses of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.”

Nationally-known industry experts will help participants understand and apply new Internet marketing functions that can dramatically help their business, Dr. Pentina said. Topics and presenters include:
• Evolution of Video for Internet Marketing, by Steve Graft, Google
• 20 Steps and Tactics to Becoming the Content Expert in Your Industry, by Joe Pulizzi, Junta42
• 12 New Digital Technologies to Accelerate Sales, by John Edwards, the Pursuit Group
• How to Add E-Commerce to Your Business, by Joe Metzger, Metzgers
• Beyond the Toolbox: Using Social Media Integration for Business, by Christopher Penn, Blue Sky Factory

“Internet marketing techniques are now a requirement for business success,” Dr. Pentina explained. “Participants left this half-day conference with the game plan and ideas they need to take positive action.”