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Six President’s Buckeye Accelerator teams awarded $50,000 for entrepreneurial ventures


Six Ohio State University student teams who participated in the first-ever President’s Buckeye Accelerator have each been awarded $50,000 to fund their entrepreneurial ventures.

The six winners were among 10 teams who pitched their ideas to a panel of Ohio entrepreneurs on April 6. The pitch finale took place at the 99P Labs facility and was hosted by the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, a campus-wide hub for the development of startup ventures.

Four people with an oversized, $50,000 check
Flanked by Brutus Buckeye and Ohio State Executive Vice President Grace Wang, Ramaswami and Murray accept their $50,000 prize.

College of Engineering students Adithya Ramaswami and Jack Murray of winning team FireFight Aero said the funding will help them build prototypes and begin manufacturing drones that are designed to support the work of firefighters.

“A lot of what we’re looking to do is start working with potential on-demand suppliers,” Murray said. “That’s a huge portion of what this is going to go to. The other huge portion is training and developing a training program because that is the next step we need to build.”

“We’re both aerospace engineering students, graduating next year with our bachelor’s (degrees),” Ramaswami said. “To be able to take our skill sets and merge them together to create meaningful technology to help save lives in our community is not only incredibly important for us, but it’s exciting. We’re incredibly grateful to be part of this program, but also to deliver solutions that will help the community.”

The goal of the President’s Buckeye Accelerator is to support President Kristina M. Johnson’s vision of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship among students and helping them to found startups and test their ideas in the marketplace while pursuing a degree, said Grace Wang, Ohio State’s executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge.

“We are impressed and inspired by our students’ energy and creativity,” said Wang, who spoke with all participating teams. “Entrepreneurship nurtures ingenuity, presents new possibilities, and empowers our students to translate ideas into marketable solutions to benefit communities while realizing their dreams. They will be leading companies that are yet to be created, and that is very exciting.”

Anjali Prabhakaran, a member of winning team Empower Health along with Chase Fensore (College of Engineering), Morgan Nemcek (College of Arts and Sciences) and Angelina Atieh (College of Medicine), said the funding will help the team build a platform to help users manage metabolic diseases.

“It’s designed to help educate patients on how they can improve their lifestyle to improve their health,” said Prabhakaran, a College of Education and Human Ecology student. “It will also help physicians get more access to patient data and also connect patients with others that share their diagnosis so they can share disease management advice and find support from a community that understands the struggles that we all go through together.”

Tessa Cannon, a member of winning team For the Love of Primates along with College of Arts and Sciences student Madelyn Green and community members Melissa Renner, Rian Nagel and Michelle Gonzalez, said her team will use part of the funding to design a sanctuary for primates that have been abused and neglected. 

“The other half (of the funding) is going to toward our capital campaign, which will help us … actually construct the sanctuary and start bringing in our primates,” said Cannon, a College of Arts and Sciences student.

The other winning teams are:

  • A Cubed Design – Team members Garrett Carder (College of Arts and Sciences), Caroline Karbowski (College of Arts and Sciences) and Enan Srivastava (College of Arts and Sciences).
  • Holocron Technologies – Team members Addam Jensen (College of Arts and Sciences), Glenn Shell (Auburn University), Tristan Yang (Columbia University) and Jared Edwards (Columbia University).
  • ServUS – Team members Yasmeen Quadri (College of Arts and Sciences), Simon Yacoub (College of Medicine), Danielle Sullivan (community member), Clayton Nelson (community member), Anitvir Taunque (College of Medicine), Gus Scaria (College of Arts and Sciences) and Tabitha Wills (College of Arts and Sciences).

The other teams that participated in the pitch finale are:

  • Common Interest – Team members Clyde Compton (Fisher College of Business), Ana Carolina Franca de Sousa (Fisher College of Business), Tim Barry (Fisher College of Business and Moritz College of Law), Michelle Weingartner (Fisher College of Business), Ajay Karthik (Fisher College of Business), Atiqur Rahman (Fisher College of Business), JR Ramsey (Fisher College of Business), Briana Elias (Fisher College of Business), Layne Chrisman (College of Engineering), John Fleming (College of Engineering), Vinay Kenkare (College of Engineering), Noah Woods (College of Engineering), Ian Roberts (College of Engineering) and Ellison Hoke (Fisher College of Business).
  • Electrion – Team members Anita Nti, Jacob Buaful and Caleb Buaful (College of Engineering).
  • SmileChild – Team members Amani Djouadi (College of Pharmacy), Ava Barone (College of Arts and Sciences) and Devi Nelakurti (College of Medicine)
  • Yulo – Team member Andrew Gilgen (Fisher College of Business).

Students who participated in the President’s Buckeye Accelerator were selected through an application process and on March 2 completed Boost Camp sessions that provided them with mentoring and feedback. Ten Boost Camp participants were selected to participate in the April 6 pitch finale.

by Chris Bournea, Ohio State News

Categories: StudentsResearch