Walsh University Hosts Innovation Challenge, Awards $10,000 in Scientific Analytical Services

Walsh University hosted an Innovation Challenge, a new element of the annual Science and Technology Summit, held November 14, 2023, which drew over 300 businesses and community leaders, economic development professionals, scientists and government officials from across the state. The Innovation Challenge is designed to assist start-up businesses by fostering entrepreneurism, innovation and scientific advancement through collaborations between academia and the business community. Nine companies competed for $10,000 worth of scientific analytical services to accelerate the development of groundbreaking ideas, products or technologies.

The diverse field of businesses competing in the Innovation Challenge included companies involved in cancer research, wound healing technologies, manufacturing, nitric oxide research and technologies used in future space exploration: Auxilium, ICaPath, Kent State University, Marble Plastics, PlasmaFutures, Space Copy, Starter KING, bTech and World Chocolate Inc. The judges were Jennifer Carney, Supervisory Research Chemist, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Dr. Evan Howe, Medical Director, Summa Health; Heather Juzwa, Senior Field Sales Engineer, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments; Tim Maloy, President, Enigma Solve; and Swarna Solanki, Director of Business Development for Healthcare, Team NEO.

In addition to presenting their innovative ideas and market analysis, each of the challengers were asked to explain how they would use $10,000 worth of scientific analytical services, which included but were not limited to research and development support, analytical testing and biological evaluation through The Center for Scientific Excellence, a state-of-the-art fee-for-services analytical laboratory with modern instrumentation and seasoned faculty who drive innovation, research, and development for clients locally and across the globe.

The winner of the Innovation Challenge competition was Yanhai Du, Ph.D., Professor, College of Aeronautics and Engineering at Kent State University, who pitched a Liquid Fuel Desulfurization idea. Immediately following the announcement of his winning the Innovation Challenge by Dr. Joe Bauer, Executive Director of The Center for Scientific Excellence, Ray Risden, Director of The Center for Scientific Excellence Laboratory and Dr. Pete Tandler, Chief Scientist for The Center for Scientific Excellence presented Dr. Du with a plaque.