We are thrilled to announce the celebration of our 15 years as the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This is a special occasion to acknowledge the ideas that turned into businesses, the entrepreneurs and mentors who turned into family, and the support system who made it all possible. As a member of the CCEI community, we hope you can join us for our celebratory, all-day event on Friday, December 2, 2022, as we acknowledge the past, present, and future of CCEI.
As a countdown to the actual day of the event, weekly blog posts will go out each Friday. These blogs will focus on something (or someone!) important to CCEI and to our history and community.
For our second week, we’d like to touch on 15 successful CCEI startups we believe you should know about. These 15 startups, at one point in the entrepreneurial process, received support and guidance through a CCEI program.
Bastion, founded by Reza Amin '18 PhD (ENG), is a reproductive health startup specialized for men. The startup allows for virtual health visits, testing kits, and treatment plans based on patients’ needs. In November of 2020, Bastion signed a $2.2 million dollar investment agreement initiated through UConn’s Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Bastion was a participant in our Summer Fellowship Program and won the 2018 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition.
Encapsulate, founded by Armin Tahmasbi Rad ’19 (ENG), Leila Daneshmandi '20 PhD (ENG), and Reza Amin '18 PhD, develops an “automated “tumor-on-a-chip” system that can grow a patient’s cancer cells outside the body to evaluate their response to different chemotherapy drugs.” In doing so, chemo drugs can be tested prior to starting actual treatments. In November of 2019, Encapsulate won the 2019 International Space Station U.S. Laboratory and Boeing “Technology in Space” Prize, receiving $500,000 and the opportunity to work with ISS. Encapsulate was a participant in our Summer Fellowship Program and was a finalist in the Wolff New Venture Competition.
3. Lactation Innovations
Created by UConn alumnae Jayme Coates MS ’07, MBA ’10 and Brittany Molkenthin ’17 (NUR), Lactation Innovations offers a solution to monitor the amount of breastfed nutrients a child receives. The non-invasive technology would allow mothers to theoretically breastfeed for a longer period of time, allowing for health benefits and saving money. Lactation Innovations won the 2022 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition this past October, bringing home the grand prize of $25,000 to use towards their entrepreneurial efforts.
Nicole Wagner ’07 (CLAS) ’13 PhD created LambdaVision with the intention to help people regain sight by developing a protein-based artificial retina for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or retinitis pigmentosa (RP). LambdaVision was a participant in our Summer Fellowship Program and a finalist in our Wolff New Venture Competition. LambdaVision recently “found success manufacturing their technology” working with NASA and the International Space Station (ISS).
5. Levo International
Created by Christian Heiden '21 (CLAS), Levo International works to bring solar-powered hydroponic systems to communities in Haiti, where they teach sustainability and globalization while giving back to others. In 2022, Levo International provided 300 school children with hydroponics, while simultaneously launching an urban farming CSA in Hartford, CT, pioneering a new approach to the local food system. Levo International participated in our Summer Fellowship Program and was a finalist in the 2019 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition.
6. Luma Hydration
Luma Hydration, started by founders BYU student Willy Hogan and Jaden Brodeur ‘20 (BUS), combats bottled water by building the first hydration unit to combine UV-C light (to eradicate bacteria) with optional filtration via activated Carbon (to treat water for other pollutants) coming in 2023. Luma is now being advised by the founder of Hydro Flask and has partnered with top manufacturers of water bottles in China, according to a Storied Tech article.
Started by Hayley Segar '17 (CLAS), onewith is a patent-pending swimwear company that specializes in creating swimwear that fits and feels like seamless underwear. This provides universally flattering products where customers do not have to worry about seams or edges that cut into skin. onewith was a participant in our Summer Fellowship and our Wolff New Venture Competition.
Learn more about this startup by visiting their website here.
8. Phoenix Tailings
Founders Nicholas Myers and Michael Martin ’17 (ENG) ’19 MS created a startup that recycles toxic sludge and extracts valuable metals from the waste that can be used in more innovative ways, such as in the production of electronics, automobiles, and more. In 2019, Phoenix Tailings won the CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition and took home the $20,000 prize.
9. Pisces Atlantic
Founded by Peter Goggins ’21 (CAHNR), Pisces Atlantic is an innovative fish food, based on Goggins’ belief that the “fish people consume should be fed healthy ingredients.” The fish food is a compound consisting primarily of dehydrated vegetables and insects. Pisces Atlantic also won the 2020 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition and the $20,000 prize.
10. ProVelocity Bat
Elijah Taitel ’22 (BUS, ENG) used his knowledge of baseball to create a technologically savvy baseball bat, complete with a “sliding ‘power barrel’ that releases to the impact position when a batter achieves the desired speed.” The bat has reached the big leagues, getting attention from MLB teams and many others. ProVelocity Bat won the 2021 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition, receiving $20,000 in entrepreneurial support.
11. Queen Bee
Raina Jain ’24 (BUS), founder of Queen Bee and avid fan of honey bees, developed an all-natural “beverage by mixing royal jelly, sometimes called ‘superfood of the Queen Bee,’ from beehives with ginger and turmeric.” In 2021, grocery giant Whole Foods allowed Jain to sell her product in their stores. Queen Bee was also among the five finalist startups selected to participate in the 2021 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition.
SedMed, co-founded by Jeremy Bronen ’20 (ENG) and Timothy Krupski MA (ENG) MBA ‘21, created a toilet lift assist product to help elderly and disabled individuals get on and off the toilet. SedMed realized that many senior citizens or otherwise disabled people struggle with daily toileting activities leading to falls, injuries, and even deaths. SedMed was chosen to participate as a top-five finalist in the 2020 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition.
Imagined and created by a team of UConn faculty and staff, Sourcery is a web application used to make it easier to access some of the world’s most sought-after archives and rare collections. Researchers can now access document archives, accessible from any device. In early 2022, Sourcery was awarded a $805,000 grant, distributed over two years, to help with the development of the app. Sourcery was a participant in our Summer Fellowship Program.
Stemify, created to combat the dropouts of many college students majoring in STEM, uses an “innovative approach to math education that utilizes artificial intelligence to support learning.” Originally idealized in 2013 by Amit Savkar, UConn associate professor in residence of mathematics, Stemify then took on Bill Moschella, TIP Advisory Board member, as an investor and executive chairman. Stemify was a participant in the 2018 CCEI Accelerate UConn Program and the Summer Fellowship Program.
VeraDermics, composed of a large group of dermatologists including Reid Waldman MD, a former UConn Health dermatology resident, is the first ever kid-friendly and easy-to-use wart treatment. The product, WartPatch, combines the most effective wart treatment with a kid-friendly drug delivery platform via microneedle patch. VeraDermics participated in CCEI’s 2020 Summer Fellowship program and was selected as a top-five finalist to compete in the 2020 CCEI Wolff New Venture Competition.