UA students win $10,000 for entrepreneurial inventiveness


LaunchTown winners

The winning team "Telkesis" from UA won the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship top prize of $10,000 and $20,000 worth of mentoring. From left is Anthony Margida, a judge and chairman of LaunchTown Leadership; Ajay Mahajan, associate dean of the College of Engineering; team members Laura Vondeak, Esra Cipa, Jason King and Margaret Brass; and Deborah D. Hoover, president and chief executive of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, a sponsor of the event.

THE FINAL FOUR competitors in The LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards 2012 included three student teams from The University of Akron and one from Cleveland State University.

After a final pitch to judges representing industry and academia, the winning team was presented with a $10,000 check and a promise of $20,000 worth of mentoring and advisory services from local entrepreneurs.

The winning team was “Telkesis,” with the next generation of spinal implants to enhance patient care. They developed an implant that reduces the physical shock of current implants and increases flexibility for dynamic spinal stabilization.

Additional coverage:

Cleveland Plain Dealer: "University of Akron entrepreneurs win LaunchTown award for spinal implant"

Akron Beacon Journal: "Surgical idea wins award"

The team included Jason King of North Canton, Margaret Brass of Amherst, Esra Cipa of Istanbul, Turkey, and Laura Vondeak of Medina. Professor Ajay Mahajan is the group’s faculty adviser.

The drive of an entrepreneur

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.

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, 20 teams competed, representing UA, Case Western Reserve, Cleveland State, Kent State and Youngstown State. That field was narrowed to eight semifinalists and then four finalists. Other UA finalists were:

  • DSC Dynamics from UA: Sunandini Chopra, Rostyslav Dolog and Ying Shi—developed biodegradable sutures that have a shape memory and respond to body heat by contracting, providing more certainly to surgical sutures.
  • Zips Audio from UA: Kyle Wilson, John Kota, Dezarae Holman and Eric Matas—created a direct digital amplifier for electrostatic loudspeakers to replaces costly amplifiers and use less power.

The award is funded by The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship.

Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or