Who Is the Next Great Penn Inventor? Finalists Announced in Penn's Student-Inventor Contest

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Media Contact:Greg Lester | glester@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-573-6604
Media Contact:Jenny Brennan | brennan.jenny@gmail.com | 703-919-6292March 28, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- Ten teams of student-inventors have made it to the finals in the University of Pennsylvania's PennVention contest.  The teams, comprised of students from across campus, represent ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the sort that would have made Penn's founder, Ben Franklin, proud.  

The contest, held by Penn's Weiss Tech House, was created to help students develop, patent and commercialize their inventions.  On April 7, the teams will compete for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes and a chance to bring their products to market.  

"We've seen students come to the Weiss Tech House with nothing more than an interest in technology and leave with an incorporated business and a world of opportunities open to them," said Karl Ulrich, faculty director of the Weiss Tech House and professor and chair of the Operations and Information Management Department at Penn's Wharton School.

The finalist teams are:

  • Dropps - Pre-measured, environmentally-friendly dissolvable packets of laundry detergent.
  • Fire Retardant Paint - Treated acrylic resins that are both flame retardant and self-extinguishing.
  • Hotbean - Winter hats that actively warm the wearer.
  • Hublock - Innovative bike locks to deter theft.
  • Laptunes - Product that allows swimmers to listen to their favorite tunes while doing laps.
  • Lazy Man Can - Garbage can that helps you to empty it.
  • MuscleMorph - Polymer-based artificial muscle.
  • Octave Swing Trainer  - Electronic golf club oachthat provides visual and audio feedback to improve golf swings.
  • Transverge - Identity-based communications service that integrates e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP and SMS into a centralized, unified network.
  • VuShare - System that allows two people to watch two different channels on the same television screen at the same time, in full screen.

At the finale, a panel of industry experts will award more than $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.  Prizes include selective laser sintering prototyping services from Paramount Industries, pro bono legal consultation from Lowenstein Sandler PC, six months of inclusive office space and amenities from the Science Center and a cash award and meeting with industry buyers from QVC.  The judges include William Schawbel, founder and CEO of the Schawbel Corporation, and Josh Kopelman, creator of Half.com and current managing drector of First Round Capitol.

"The caliber of student inventions developed at the Weiss Tech House is remarkable," said Roger Shiffman, president and CEO of Zizzle LLC , cofounder of Tiger Electronics Company and mentor to PennVention participants. "We found working with these students through the process to be a very worthy investment."

Last year's PennVention winners have already found success in moving their ideas from the drawing board to reality.

Last year first-place winners, Samuel Reeves and Josh Koplin, creators of the HRI Minesweeper robot, were recently hired by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian De-mining to conduct a study on de-mining that took them to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia and Thailand.

Second-place winners Jonathan Danoff and Jared Bernheim recently incorporated their business, Intellistem Orthopaedic Innovations.

This spring, third-place winner Allison Floam will sell her innovative beach towel, Sunsak, on QVC.

Additional information, details on the contest and a list of potential prizes are available at www.tech-house.upenn.edu