The future of innovation is stronger than ever, and companies are continuously embracing creativity and supporting newfound ideas. In line with this trend, Avnet, a leading global technology solutions company, and Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, today awarded Strella Biotechnology with $100,000 as the winning team of the third annual ASU Innovation Open (ASUio), held at ASU’s Tempe Campus on Friday, Feb. 1.
The team, led by Katherine Sizov from University of Pennsylvania, demonstrated its biosensing platforms that measure fruit ripeness by calculating ethylene gas production. This provides actionable data to packers and distributors to reduce food waste and increase fruit quality. The technology is already in use by apple packers in Washington and Pennsylvania.
The ASUio is the largest student venture competition in the southwestern United States. University students from across the nation and from all disciplines participate in a series of three competitive rounds to showcase the power of entrepreneurship in tackling the world’s most challenging problems. Avnet’s continued support for the competition underscores its commitment to guiding today’s ideas into tomorrow’s technology. In addition to the $100,000 prize, Avnet offers their valuable global design and engineering expertise to the grand prize winner to optimize their solution.
“Each finalist exemplifies the creativity, talent and initiative that is at the core of both the ASU Innovation Open and the entrepreneurial spirit that is so prevalent in technology,” said Bill Amelio, Avnet CEO. “This competition is the perfect example of how Avnet’s ecosystem can help bring amazing ideas to life like the ones presented by these young designers. We are proud to recognize Strella Biotechnology with the grand prize, and we eagerly anticipate the impact all of these young entrepreneurs will have on the world of technology.”
During the competition, teams showcased their business ventures powered by innovative hardware and software technologies. In addition to Strella Biotechnology, the other four 2019 ASUio finalists included:
• Cloud Agronomics, by Jack Roswell and Oleksiy Zhuk from Brown University, is an aerial imaging and data analytics venture in the agri-tech sector that is dedicated to reducing food waste. The company collects ultra-high definition images taken from manned aircraft to scout evidence of crop disease and advise famers to act.
• Infinite Cooling, by Maher Damak from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed technology to capture large amounts of pure water from the evaporative losses of cooling towers in power plants. This cooling apparatus has already been installed at a power plant on the MIT campus, and other industry leaders plan to incorporate the idea to recycle water for reuse in their cooling systems.
• Solemate Solutions, by Surabhi Kalyan and Kristine Khieu from University of California, San Diego, makes a smart shoe insole that optimizes lower-extremity rehabilitation following orthopedic surgery by measuring weight applied and providing real-time feedback. The smart sole can improve recovery time and help prevent serious complications that may occur following patient discharge.
• Soundskrit, by Sahil Gupta from McGill University, leverages years of research in biomimetic microphone design to develop multi-directional Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) microphones to significantly improve audio capture. This velocity microphone technology dynamically tracks and listens to multiple inputs and improves years of stagnant technology in audio capture.
“The Phoenix metropolitan area is quickly becoming a technology and entrepreneurship hub, and at the Fulton Schools, we’re excited to be one of the catalysts of this wave of innovation and creativity,” says Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Through the ASU Innovation Open, we’re bolstering new ideas from ventures like Strella Biotechnology and the other competitors who are all on course to become the technology leaders of tomorrow.”
In addition to Avnet’s $100,000 grand prize, additional sponsors for the 2019 ASUio provide support for the winners and finalists, including: Zero Mass Water, SRP, ON Semiconductor, Sitewire, Board of Regents, and Roambotics. All finalists will be considered for inclusion in the Avnet Innovation Lab, a collaboration with ASU that attracts some of the brightest entrepreneurs and provides funding, access to industry experts, and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs so they can accelerate their next-generation technologies.