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Cornell Tech student startups receive $40K awards

Cornell Tech has awarded five student startup companies $40,000 each in pre-seed funding and one year of free office space in its inaugural Startup Awards competition.

A panel of tech industry leaders selected the winning student teams, which will work in space provided by Forest City Ratner Cos. in The New York Times Building.

The Startup Awards are an outgrowth of the culture of entrepreneurship central to the master’s student experience at Cornell Tech. In their final semester, every student enrolls in Startup Studio, where teams of engineering and business students develop business ideas.

Cornell Tech created the award program to fill the void for students who have strong prototypes and pitches from their academic work at Cornell Tech but lack the deep networks and wealth necessary to support themselves before seed funding becomes available. Cornell Tech plans to experiment with the Startup Awards program and related means of promoting startups among its students over the next several years, awarding funding and office space to dozens of student businesses once the school has moved to its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island.

“The Startup Awards are a transformative opportunity to level the playing field and remove considerable barriers to entry for some of the best startups coming out of Cornell Tech,” said Cornell Tech Dean Daniel Huttenlocher. “With more than 100 students on campus, Cornell Tech is already graduating tech talent and spinning off startups, and through this experience we’re able to identify and try to address gaps in the tech ecosystem.”

The winners are:

Dogstar, a pet wearable device that measures and records dogs’ happiness and stress levels – transmitting data back to their owners while they are away;

Epicure, an online platform that analyzes users’ shopping and food order receipts to assess nutritional value, recommend healthier alternatives and make healthy shopping easy;

Mynd, a low-cost, Bluetooth-based wristband that makes it easier for teachers and parents to keep track of large groups of children in public spaces and gives adults on trips peace of mind;

Pace, a social connecting app that connects runners with other athletes working out in their neighborhoods or along their paths;

Trigger, an online trading platform that automates complicated trading algorithms for users, allowing them to make investment decisions closer to the ones that finance professionals make.

Students honed their startup projects over the semester under the guidance of investor and entrepreneur David Tisch, Cornell Tech’s head of Startup Studio, and Greg Pass, Cornell Tech chief entrepreneurial officer and former Twitter chief technology officer. Tisch and Pass worked closely with student groups, providing critiques and advice from the development stage to the final Startup Awards competition presentations. These took place May 15 in conjunction with Open Studio, the culminating event of each semester at Cornell Tech when students, researchers, postdocs and faculty share their work.

The Startup Awards were made possible by a $200,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone selected Cornell Tech as one of 20 recipients of its Innovation Grants, which support nonprofit organizations focused on entrepreneurship and that benefit local communities.

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