Engineering Students Shine at Annual Start-up Competition

Engineering alumnus Alessandro Piol BS'79, MS'82, a judge at the competition, with first place winners, Cellanyx Diagnostics. From left to right: Piol, Anurag Mathur (mechanical engineering), Ashok Chander (biological sciences), and Giovanni Meacci (biological sciences).
—Photo by Bruce Gilbert
Columbia Engineering entrepreneurs stole the show at the recent Columbia Engineering Venture Competition hosted by the School. Out of eight finalists from a field of more than 60 entries collected University-wide, the three teams who stood out with winning startup ideas all came from the Engineering School.
 
Engineering alumnus Rob Peterson BS’89, chief innovation officer at confections giant Wrigley, helped to establish the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Entrepreneurship Award Fund, which provided $25,000 in award prizes for top winners.
 
Cellanyx Diagnostics took home $15,000 and first place in the competition; a team that included engineering alumni Anurag Mathur MS’07, PhD’12 and Michael Lamprecht MS’09, along with Ashok Chander MS’08GSAS and Giovanni Meacci, an associate research scientist in biological sciences. Cellanyx has developed a diagnostics tool that will give oncologists a quantitative predictor of a prostate tumor’s oncogenic and metastatic potential leading to reduced healthcare costs, improved patient quality of life, and extended patient survival.
 
Second place and an award of $7,000 went to the QuickStitch device from the Archon Medical Technologies team, which also included a biomedical engineering student, Kapil Wattamwar. The disposable suturing device targets abdominal surgery applications and promises a lower risk of patient hernia formation and a faster healing time. The Archon team also hopes hospitals will experience fewer postoperative complications by using their device.
 
Third place went to Transcend Lighting, led by Brian Bennett, a graduate student in electrical engineering and a researcher in the Columbia Laboratory for Unconventional Electronics. Transcend Lighting, which received the $3,000 prize, designs highly efficient horticultural lights for commercial indoor growing operations. Its unique technology produces exactly the right light spectrum for each plant at each stage of development, resulting in a large cost savings, optimal growing performance, and a high return on investment.
 
Each team squared off March 30th at Faculty House for the final round of the third annual Columbia Engineering Venture Competition. The competition is open to students and young alumni from all Columbia University schools. For more about the Venture Competition or other Columbia Engineering entrepreneurship initiatives, including mentoring and the First Investor Program, contact cm3014@columbia.edu.
 
—Story by Christopher McGarry
500 W. 120th St., Mudd 510, New York, NY 10027    212-854-2993