• LaunchTown

    Entrepreneurial Awards

  • About

    The LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards are an idea competition, seeking students with the BEST IDEA for a new technology based business, product or service that addresses a significant market need. This is an open competition, available to all students, of all majors, from all colleges and universities. $10,000 in cash prizes available.

    The LaunchTown™ Entrepreneurship Awards and leadership team is committed to fostering innovative ideas from student entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio’s more than 150,000 university and college students. Its mission is to create an enhanced awareness of the importance and potential of robust entrepreneurial activity, and to celebrate the extraordinary creative talent already in our region.

  • LaunchTown 2018 Finalists

    1st Place Winner: PATH ROBOTICS

    Case Western Reserve University

    Andrew and Alexander Lonsberry took 1st place with Path Robotics, an autonomous robotic welder utilizing proprietary A.I. methods to autonomously find all the seams that can be welded.



    Case Western Reserve University

    Boundary Laboratories came in 2nd place with presenter, Prince Ghosh. The product is a dielectric barrier discharge plasma actuator adhesive strip that can stick to the surface of wind turbine blades, plane wings, and truck trailers, activation streamlines air turbulence reducing energy usage by 4%.

    Emerging Business Team Award: Firefly

    Kent State University

    Naser Madi, Elena Blaginykh, Michelle Park, & Paramanand Deginal won the Emerging Business Team Award with their product, Firefly. Firefly is a smart purse that incorporates technology to enhance communication in everyday life.

    Inaugural LaunchChef: Dion Millender


    Congratulations to emerging culinary entrepreneur Dion Millender of Shaboys, who was selected as the Inaugural LaunchChef competition winner and was the caterer for the event!

  • The LaunchTown semi-finalists are:

    • Boundary Laboratories
    • Crasbamd
    • Dirimo Tire
    • EMDR VR
    • Firefly
    • InSpirit
    • iRes
    • JJSquad
    • Mussel
    • Path Robotics
    • PneuKinetics
    • Protein Stabilizer

  • Keynote Speaker: Mike Maczuzak

    Mike Maczuzak

    CEO & Founder of SmartShape

    Mike Maczuzak has been helping clients shape the future with new product innovation through impactful design and development for more than 30 years.


    He is passionate about helping clients create competitive advantage and grow businesses with innovation strategy and winning brand experiences.


    With broad and deep experience and perspective, Mike enjoys working at the forefront of emerging technology and anticipating trends. He is most passionate about creating meaningful innovation that improves lives, such as innovation in healthcare systems and delivery, innovation that promotes sustainability, like electric vehicle technologies, and innovation leveraging new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR).


    Mike and his team at SmartShape Design work daily to produce both physical and digital user-centric products, working with companies to refine innovative concepts, develop ideas toward prototype, and design for manufacturability and entry into the market.


    Mike seeks entrepreneurial thinkers, whether within startups or Fortune 100 companies, with whom SmartShape can work to shape the product marketplace of the future.

  • The Well

  • Presented by

    The LaunchTown leadership team consists of regional professional and university leaders who volunteer their time to manage the competition and advise the teams.

  • Competition Guidelines

    Important Dates

    March 13, 2018- Proposals due

    April 2, 2018- Semi final presentations 9am-noon, Kent State University

    April 16, 2018- LaunchTown Finals, 5:00 pm at Compass Coffee, located in The Well at 647 E. Market St, Akron . The event is free and will have food, speakers, and awards.

    Submission Guidelines

    • Multiple disciplines are encouraged
    • Faculty/staff advisor preferred
    • Complete online application
    • Include links to video
    • Proposal should include answers to the following questions:
      •     What is your technology based product, service or business idea?
      •     What problem are you solving?
      •     What is your value proposition?
      •     What is the market size?
      •     How will you reach your market?
      •     Who is going to buy it?
      •     How will you make money?
      •     How will you use the funds if you win?
    • Judging will be based on the quality of the idea and the following rubric:
      • Likelihood of commercialization and business impact on the region (50%)
      • Marketability, including IP (25%)
      • Materials and presentation (25%)
  • Apply

    Complete the application form below, and then review this website for key dates and specific steps on entering your Best Technology Based Idea to win in the 2018 LaunchTown competition.

  • Past Winners


    OncoSolutions uses a special 3-D cellular technology to evaluate new medicines for cancer treatment. This technology provides greater reliability in preliminary testing, saving up to six months of research and hundreds of thousands of dollars in research costs.


    The University of Akron

    The winning team, called PolyLux, is comprised of Kaushik Mishra, a Ph.D. student in polymer science, and Prad Georges, a JD-MBA graduate working toward a master's in accountancy.

    Mishra invented an adhesive technology that can facilitate easy removal of bandages and minimize pain, discomfort and injury to a patient’s skin. Georges was brought in to solidify the business case and help identify how the technology can go to market.


    The University of Akron

    Ph.D. student Kathy Stitzlein and post baccalaureate biomedical engineering student Mariam Crow are the first all-female team to win the award since its inception. Beating out a total of 24 teams, Stitzlein and Crow won for their Cannibuster device, which law enforcement officers can use roadside to detect the levels of THC in drivers in a matter of minutes. Currently, drivers must be taken to a hospital for bloodwork and lab results can take up to six weeks to process.


    Case Western Reserve University

    The stylish wristband that utilizes military grade encryption to grant access to key and password enabled devices.  Created by team leader Chris Wentz, Everykey also manages a password keychain for automatic login to websites.

    2013-Disease Diagnostic Group

    Case Western Reserve University

    This team included John Lewandowski and Mark Lewandowski; mentored by Dr. Brian Grimberg of Case Western Reserve University. A breakthrough portable medical diagnostic tool for malaria that is fast, reliable, inexpensive and reusable.


    The University of Akron

    The team developed a minimal shock set screw as an implant that promises to be safer, more flexible and more effective for surgical use in patients with back problems needing spinal stabilization. The implant is made from a titanium alloy.

    2010-LifeServe Innovations

    featured in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Top 25 U.S. Entrepreneurs Under 25


    featured in Bloomberg Businessweek’sTop 25 U.S. Entrepreneurs Under 25