With a fast-moving presentation and demonstration of wireless sensor technology that “looks” through walls, Joey Wilson of Xandem took the title of “Innovation Idol” at a Leonardo After Hours event in Salt Lake City Dec. 7. An audience of 175 cast their votes for one of four innovative research and development projects in a speed pitch contest, and awarded Xandem with the $500 first prize.
The “Innovation Idol: Superhero Edition” audience also heard presentations from:
· Steve Blair of Axon Optics, who described eyeglasses and coatings to reduce light-induced migraines.
· Amanda Brooks of Elute Inc. described bone graft technology that provides for controlled release of antibiotics directly into bone tissue post-surgery.
· Jacqueline Siy of the University of Utah introduced a low-cost, high-quality method to produce tiny nanocrystal semiconductors for use in televisions, cell phone screens, and other applications.
All four projects have received funding from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program and several have received commercialization support through USTAR.
A panel of experts grilled each presenter after the speed pitches. Panelist Linda Muir, director of the Westminster College Center for New Enterprise, said, “These were four really impressive technologies with good potential for high-growth business. It’s exciting to see the quality of the projects that the state is helping to fast-track.”
Panelist Brady Canfield, a business consultant and former member of the US National Skeleton team, stressed the tough choice the audience faced. “This was an entertaining apples-to-oranges-to-bananas-to-pears choice. Luckily there wasn’t a lemon in the bunch. Stepping back, the diversity of innovation that’s taking place in Utah is impressive and speaks to a healthy innovation ecosystem.”
Panelist Mary Cardon, manager of USTAR’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center, spoke to the audience experience. “The Leonardo did a terrific job introducing each presenter with a film clip from the X-Men, Batman, and Saturday morning cartoons. Superhero talents from Wolverine’s rapid healing to the Atom’s molecular-level powers made for a fun way to think about each presentation.”
Leonardo After Hours is a series of public events produced by The Leonardo and the Utah Science and Technology Research (USTAR) initiative that tackle current science and technology topics and their impact on society. Local experts from universities, industry, and government join the public for lively discussions in a laid-back, evening atmosphere. The next Leonardo After Hours event will deal with artificial life and artificial intelligence and is planned for early March. For more information, visit http://www.theleonardo.org.