- Judging Criteria
- Use of Funds
- Awards Agreement
- 2012-2013 Portfolio Ventures
The Weiss Tech House Innovation Fund is an in-house, mini-venture capital fund, run by a student Innovation Fund Committee. It is the gateway to funding and support from the Weiss Tech House. Each year the Committee awards approximately twenty grants of up to $5,000 to student inventors seeking funding to develop their innovative ideas, in addition to ongoing technical, legal, and business mentoring resources. All you need is an idea.
The Innovation Fund does not take equity in funded projects. Teams must consist of at least one member who is either an undergraduate student, graduate student, or faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Since its inception, the Innovation Fund has awarded grants to more than 50 student projects ranging from a new hip replacement prosthetic, to a water-distribution project in Honduras, to a system that enables football kickers to practice and enhance performance. For a list of current and past student projects funded by the Innovation Fund, visit the Student Projects Page.
If you have any questions, please contact the Innovation Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Innovation Fund is now accepting applications for the 2013-2014 year.
The Innovation Fund Committee judges applications based on the level of innovation shown in each product or service, regardless of the level of technical complexity. Only an idea is needed to apply. Teams must have at least one student currently attending the University of Pennsylvania.
The following are the traditional base metrics used to evaluate an Innovation Fund application:
- Projects must have an innovative factor: technological/process.
- Projects must have a technological component.
- Projects should have a good management team which is dedicated to implementation.
- Projects must be feasible.
- Projects must be in accordance with the Weiss Tech House ideals and mission.
- The innovative part of the project must be completed by the team and not outsourced.
In addition to those metrics, accepted Innovation Fund teams who are pitching for up to $4,000 of additional funding are evaluated by these additional questions:
- How has your team used the initial $1,000 grant?
- What milestones has your team been able to reach with the initial grant?
- How does your team plan to use the additional funding?
- What milestones does your team plan to reach with the additional funding?
- What Tech House resources besides funding have your team utilized?
- Did your team stay in contact with your project manager and give him any project updates?
All proposed uses for the Innovation Fund grant must be initially approved by the team’s project manager and then ultimately by the entire Innovation Fund Committee.
Common uses for Innovation Fund grants include:
- Raw materials used to construct a prototype
- Server costs
- Necessary packaged software (not the payment for a professional to write computer code)
- Security certificates
The Innovation Fund tends not to solely fund:
- Marketing expenses
- The cost of a contractor’s services (i.e. payment for a professional to write a computer code).
- Personal travel expenses
- Incorporation fees
The Innovation Fund does not take equity in funded projects. There are, however, three requirements for all accepted teams:
- Updates – Accepted team must regularly update their project managers on their progress.
- Community Participation – Accepted team members are required to participate in Weiss Tech House and Innovation Fund events and to be an active part of the community.
- Innovation Fund Publicity – Accepted team members are required to place the following blurb on their websites:”The Weiss Tech House at the University of Pennsylvania encourages and supports students in the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies. The Innovation Fund is a mini-venture capital fund that provides a gateway to the Weiss Tech House’s funding, lab space, and mentorship.”
The Innovation Fund Committee accepts student applications on a rolling basis.
To apply to the Innovation Fund you must submit the two required application forms which are available for download here:
Within the ‘main application’ form there are detailed instructions on how to complete the full application process. If you have any further questions please contact the Innovation Fund Chair at email@example.com
If your project is selected, an Innovation Fund Committee member will become your project manager, and will act as your liaison to the rest of the Committee. If he feels that you are ready to present your idea in front of the committee, he will prepare you for a formal 10-minute pitch followed by a 10-minute Questions & Answers session. Accepted teams will receive a $1,000 grant and will have access to the Tech House’s technical, legal, and business mentoring resources. Teams that are not accepted to the Innovation Fund will have the opportunity to pitch again during the following semester.
Certain accepted teams which need additional resources can apply for an additional $4,000 in funding. The Innovation Fund will only award one grant of additional funding per semester. Interested teams should contact their project managers for more information.
Team Name: Grand Round Table
Member Names: Kristy Leong, Eric King, John Schaeffer
Description: Grand Round Table develops software to help doctors resolve complex medical cases more rapidly by connecting doctors with the relevant scholarly articles, similar cases, and local experts to weigh in on their cases until they are solved.
For more information, visit Grand Round Table
Team Name: Biomated Solutions
Member Names: Vivek Sharma, Neena Bitritto-Garg, Dawen
Description: Biomated Solutions develops and delivers cost effective automation technologies that drive innovation and discovery forward. We specialize in mouse colony management systems for use in in-vivo research.
Team name: Graphmuse
Member names: Tony Diepenbrock, Charles Moyes, Ryan Shea
Description: GraphMuse is an invitation widget for sites using Facebook that increases the number of friends user invite. This increase in virality is achieved by encouraging users to invite groups of friends with a high affinity for the app. To determine these groups, we parallelized our friend group and close friend algorithims using GPUS.
For more information visit www.graphmuse.com.
Team name: Knowtorious
Member names:Zachary Dennett, Wharton 2nd year MBA, co-founder Dario Rethage, Rutgers ’14, back end lead, Thomas Boutin, Penn SEAS ’12, front end lead, Jack Becker, Harvard Grad School of Design ’13, lead designer
Description: Knowtorious is a head-to-head trivia app for iOS in which users can challenge their friends to trivia battles across a number of novel categories. As an ad platform, the company seeks to solve the problem of how to advertise on mobile by offering engaging, branded trivia content. Knowtorious will monetize its trivia content by charging companies to host trivia challenges on the Knowtorious app, as well as for any consumer targeting, and for providing data and analytics around user responses to trivia challenges.
Team Name: Parametric Team Members: Geoffrey Johnson
Description: Splitting a complicated restaurant bill is never easy, and it’s always hard to find new restaurants that you know you’ll like especially with a group of friends. And when you find food that you love (or hate), there is no seamless way to rate, catalog, or share those experiences. Parametric is building a social app and pay-at-table solution to accomplish all of these things and quite a lot more; we are launching in Philadelphia in mid 2013.
For more information, visit www.parametricdining.com
Team Name: FluxHinge
Member names: Richard Liu
Description: Unlike a conventional door closer, which uses hydraulic pistons to create resistance and close the door, the FLUXHinge makes use of human power to generate electricity (while performing the same job as a conventional door closer). FLUXHinge has the ability to give energy back to the grid, becoming energy positive. This product will be valuable to commercial buildings because of their large scale usage and made available for consumers for home use.
Team Name: Spruce Medical Technologies
Member names: Frank Bodie, Justin Liew
Description: Spruce Medical Technologies is developing a novel atraumatic grasper for laparoscopic surgery. Utilizing suction, the grasper will minimize tearing and perforation that occur during surgery on delicate or friable tissues.
\Team Name: The Rent Scene
Member Names: Marvis Burns, Deepa Mahajan, Dave Philips
Description: The Rent Scene is a Wharton-based start-up that pairs young, urban professions with compatible roommates and rental properties for free (think: Match.com for roommates). Our team schedules all of your apartment visits, provides useful move-in information, matches you with the perfect roommate and gives you a $100 gift card.
Team Name: PennCycle
Member Names: Chris Cruz, Madison Roberts, Jenny Xia, Razzi Abuissa, Bobby Lundquist, Michael Patini, Zoe Blickenderfer, Sara Jones, Brian Rawn, Alex Rattray, Akailah Jennings
Team Description: Penn Cycle is a student-led bike share service initated in March 2012. After students or faculty sign a waiver and buy a membership, they can check out bikes at any PennCycle station. Currently, we are implementing a next-generation, fully automated bicycle share system that integrates GPS and text-based technology to provide campus-wide sustainable transportation.
Team Name: GreenVote
Member Names: Benedikt Lotter, Karan Hiremath, Arjun Jain
Venture Description: GreenVote creates a real-time feedback platform that helps institutions optimize the comfort-efficiency balance of facilities based on a crowd-sourced sentiment analysis. The goal is to become the innovator in aligning user preferences and efficiency goals.
Team Name: Aveece
Team Members: Jonathon Youshaei, Edward Lando
Venture Description: Powered by The Apparel Genome Project, Aveece is an algorithm based technology that provides users with a unique way to discover and buy clothing. In short, it’s A Very Extraordinary Engine for Clothing Exploration.
Team Name: HydraVita
Team Members: Ethan Aaron, Bennett Lee, and Mike Stelkenkamp Venture Description: The HydraVita team is designing a high throughput, low-cost water sterlization device for developing countries. The device inactivates bacteria with the use of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires by way of a novel technique developed at the Department of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University in 2010.
Team Name: VenturePact
Team Members: Randy Reyes, Pratham Mithal
Venture Description: VenturePact is a tech focused startup incubator that provides product development and tech support to its portfolio companies. VenturePract applies a VC model but instead of capital, provides product development, tech hiring services and introduction to VCs, media, advisers and business partners. They also run a fellows program whereby they connect students to their portfolio companies for short term assignments. VenturePact’s current portfolio consists of seven companies and is currently recruiting for its third class of startups. VenturePact’s vision is to become a startup machine enabling entrepreneurs all over the world to act on their ideas.
Relevant Links: www.venturepact.com
Team Name: Skelegen
Team Members: Kurt Hankenson, Michael Dishowitz, University of Pennsylvania
Venture Description: Skelegen is developing a protein-based tissue engineering strategies to regenerate bone. Our technology, utilizes a novel osteoinductive liquid, Jagged1, which has been shown to induce differentiation of stem cells into osteoblasts, which are bone-producing cells.
Relevant Links: www.ctt.upenn.edu/skelegen.html
Team Name: Emerald Team Members: Alex Rattray, Pulak Mittal
Venture Description: Emerald is an application that allows students to take in-class exams on their laptops instead of by hand, without allowing them to cheat.
Relevant Links: http://beta.emeraldexam.com/
Anubhav Maheshwari, Co-Chair
Anubhav is a junior in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, pursuing Finance at The Wharton School and Materials Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is a returning member of the Innovation Fund. He has a keen interest for technology and business and enjoys learning about new innovations. At Penn, he is also involved with the Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and the Wharton Trading Group. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robbie Horwitz, Co-Chair
Robert Horwitz is a senior in Wharton concentrating in Finance and Managing Electronic Commerce, as well as minoring in Computer Science. He has been on the Innovation Fund since his freshman year at Penn and I have found it to be the most worthwhile and fulfilling experience of his academic career. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Connor Theilmann –Treasurer, PM
Connor is from Dallas, Texas and is a member of the M&T program’s class of 2015. He is currently pursuing a degree in Finance, Accounting, and a specialized applied statistics and marketing concentration from Wharton, and a Computer Science Degree from the Engineering School. He has worked for a small PE firm for the last three years specializing in “Innovative technologies in mature marketplaces.” He is very involved in helping small companies grow and succeed by attempting to add value in any way possible when the opportunity presents itself. Connor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
John Geagea, PM
John is a senior pursuing a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School. Outside the Weiss Tech House, John is also a Management 100 TA and is involved in the Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club. His current interests revolve around the energy sector
Steph Weiner, PM
Stephanie is a senior in The Wharton School concentrating in finance and electronic commerce. She served her freshman year as a member of Weiss Tech House’s Mentoring Committee, and this is her second year on the Innovation Fund. Stephanie is fascinated by technology and has interned for a couple startups and TechCrunch. She has also worked on a few of her own projects.
Nick Normile, External Outreach
Nick is a junior in the Wharton School concentrating in finance and marketing. Nick is passionate about establishing relationships with relevant organizations to grow the Innovation Fund Community and is a tireless networker. In the past Nick has worked at the VC firm Artists & Instigators and at the Consulting Firm Pivotal Business Solutions.
Ulhas Jagdale, PM
Ulhas is a senior in the Management & Technology Program studying computer science, entrepreneurial management, and finance. He was the former chair of Weiss Tech House’s Mentoring Committee, and is now a member of the Innovation Fund. Ulhas is very interested in the strategy aspect of companies in the technology industry. He has previously worked with many entrepreneurs in areas such as business planning & business development and hopes to pursue a career in the technology industry after graduation.
Justin Mardjuki, PM
Justin is a senior in the Wharton School concentrating in Finance, Operations & Information Management and Marketing. He joined the Weiss Tech House as a member of the Mentoring Committee in 2011, and has been a Project Manager for the Innovation Fund since September 2012. Justin is primarily interested in the growth strategies and analytics of the B2B and B2C mobile sectors. Outside of Weiss Tech House, Justin is the COO of TappMob, a venture-backed mobile application company building apps for college students.
Aly Kassim-Lakha, PM
Aly is a junior in the Wharton School concentrating in Finance, Accounting and Management. He has been a Project Manager for the Innovation Fund since September 2012. Aly has a passion for technology, specifically for e-commerce and fintech, and continues to work with new ventures to develop their business strategies and product offerings. Aly can be contacted at email@example.com
Tanya Paul, Internal Portfolio Manager
Tanya is a junior in The Wharton School concentrating in Finance and Accounting with a minor in economics. She has served as Internal Manager since September 2012. Tanya has a keen interest in the early stages of entrepreneurship and how it develops, especially within the energy sector. Tanya can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org