Entrepreneurs' showdown: Winner gets venture funds


Spring has sprung and so have ideas for new products by student entrepreneurs from Northeast Ohio.

A team from The University of Akron, ThermElectricity, has been named one of the four teams taking part in the finals of the 2013 LaunchTown™ Entrepreneurship Business Idea Competition Wednesday, April 17, beginning at 4 p.m. in the Martin Center.

Jim Tressel, UA’s vice president for strategic engagement, will speak at the event.

Before a winner is announced, college-age entrepreneurs from each of the four finalists will pitch their best ideas for a new business, product, or service to a live audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, local business leaders with more than $10,000 in cash prizes and $30,000 worth of mentoring and advisory services on the line.

ThermElectricity, developer of a Thermal Energy Harvesting device that can economically convert any source of heat into electricity without emitting pollution, is comprised of three College of Engineering students and two engineering faculty advisers. They include Ph.D. students Benjamin Kent and John Lavery, and senior undergraduate student Bradley Carley, along with faculty members Erik Engeberg, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and S.I. Hariharan, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

LaunchTown is an idea competition open to graduate-student-led teams with awards going to the best ideas submitted for a new business, product or service.

“Northeast Ohio’s economic future will decided by the companies that today's college students create here in the years to come,” said Tom Barratt, president of The Tom Barratt Companies and founder of the LaunchTown program. “I have been truly impressed with all the LaunchTown finalists over the years and their presentations at the live events. They represent our future.”

The purpose is to inspire and provide students a forum to experience what it is like to become an entrepreneur.

The event is open to college students from across Northeast Ohio. This year, 25 teams competed, representing UA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University and Youngstown State University, among others. That field was narrowed to eight semifinalists and then four finalists.

For more information, visit the LaunchTown website at www.launchtown.com.

Media contact: Laura M. Massie, 330-972-6476 or massie1@uakron.edu