• Deadline Extended!

    LaunchTown Experience(tm)

  • LaunchTown Experience(tm) - 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 2019 LaunchTown Experience(tm).

  • LaunchChef Competition

    This year we will be awarding up to $5,000 to the winner(s) of LaunchChef(tm). The Grand Prize includes the opportunity to showcase their culinary talent at the LaunchTown Experience(tm) Finals event on April 15th, where an audience of 150 people will enjoy food prepared by the winner(s).


    Entrants must be a true startup, with this being their first venture in the food industry. This contest is open to all Ohio students and members of the community in the State of Ohio. Applications must be submitted by March 18.


    Semi-finalists must be available for interviews on March 23. Finalists will be asked to prepare their product for a panel of judges on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

  • Attend our LaunchTown Experience(tm) Event April 15 at Baldwin Wallace Center for Innovation and Growth.

    Our keynote speaker is Brandon Chrostowski

    Brandon Chrostowski

    Brandon Edwin Chrostowski is on a mission to change the face of re-entry in the United States. In 2007, he founded EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. His belief that “every human being regardless of their past has the right to a fair and equal future” is what has driven the creation of EDWINS. The idea for EDWINS was born from a ‘break” that Chrostowski received early in life and has grown into a six-month program conducted at EDWINS Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio as well as in prison. His approach is simple: arm those re-entering society with a skill set and a smile. The program provides training in Culinary Arts and the Hospitality Industry. Individuals are not only equipped with basic culinary skills, but also are assisted with finding employment and have the opportunity to utilize free housing, basic medical care, clothing, job coaching, and literacy programs.
    Chrostowski began his career in Detroit sixteen years ago and has since trained in some of the world’s finest restaurants. He received an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Restaurant Management at The Culinary Institute of America. He apprenticed at Chicago’s legendary restaurant, Charlie Trotters and after graduation worked at Lucas Carton, Paris’ longest standing Michelin 3-star restaurant. At Lucas Carton, Brandon began to develop cutting-edge skills, while learning the intricacies of a French kitchen.


    After spending time in Europe, Brandon decided to return to the United States to refine further what he learned in France. In New York City, Brandon worked at Le Cirque, Picholine, Chanterelle, a New York Times and James Beard award-winning restaurant, while working under the tutelage of restaurateurs Karen and David Waltuck. At Chanterelle, Brandon also worked closely with Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn and was so inspired became a certified sommelier himself.


    Leaving New York to start EDWINS in Cleveland was the next step. A city with high incarceration and poverty with a strong desire for innovative re-entry programming was the place to be. In 2011, the program began in prison and in 2013 the restaurant and institute opened its doors in Cleveland. Brandon’s commitment to EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute has grown from teaching in prisons to opening its flagship restaurant as well as building a 20,000-square foot campus that offers free housing, a workout facility, library, basketball court and other amenities. Today EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute graduates over 100 students a year between its prison program and restaurant institute.


    Chrostowski’s philosophy is simple, “make it happen”. No matter what the problem is, it can be solved with hard work and care. This approach has led to the success of EDWINS and a revolution in the non profit world. Issues from housing, healthcare and substance abuse treatment are all addressed while at EDWINS. Graduates of the program have gained employment in Cleveland’s finest restaurants after finishing the program or after release from prison. The results have been astounding 97% employment after graduation and 1% recidivism.
    The success of this work and other initiatives led by Chrostowski has earned him over dozens of awards including the 2016 CNN Hero, The Richard Cornuelle Award from the Manhattan Institute for Social Entrepreneurship as well as Crain’s 40 under 40. He has spoken at a number of Universities and corporations but is most proud of his TED X talk, his speech at The United States Senate and The City Club. Fighting for fair and equal opportunities has also earned Chrostowski media from countless outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The City Journal, Forbes, Food & Wine, The Irish Times, HR Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and more. He has also been featured on Steve Harvey as a Harvey’s Hero, TD Jakes, CNN, NBC, ABC, NPR, WKSU, The Huckabee Show and is the subject of the 2018 Oscar nominated documentary, “Knife Skills” by Thomas Lennon. In 2018, Brandon was invited to cook at the illustrious James Beard House in NYC. He was named a Place Maker by the Cleveland Foundation, Innovator of The Year by the Ohio Restaurant Association and was awarded the Economic Diversity Award by the Cleveland Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


    Brandon, a committed advocate of the underserved, was so upset with the condition of Cleveland and its leadership in the inner city that he ran for Mayor in the 2017 election, finishing fourth out of nine candidates in the primary, surprising many in the political class. Brandon is a proud father of two, Leo and Lilly and is crazy about his wife Catana!


  • About

    The LaunchTown Experience(tm) is 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. $20,000 in cash prizes available.

    The LaunchTown Experience(tm) 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.

  • Presented by

    The LaunchTown Experience(tm) 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 18, 2019- Entry deadline

    March 25, 2019 - Conference call for preliminary judging

    April 3, 2019- Semi final presentations, 4-7pm - Kent State University.

    April 15, 2019 - Finals event, 5pm - Center for Innovation and Growth at Baldwin Wallace University

    Submission Guidelines

    • Multiple disciplines are encouraged
    • Faculty/staff advisor preferred
    • Complete online application
    • Include links to video
    • 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%)
  • Past Winners

    2018 - 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.


    2018 - 2nd Place Winner: BOUNDARY LABORATORIES

    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%.

    2018 - 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.

    2018 - 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!

  • 2017-OncoSolutions

    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