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David Tisch, head of Startup Studio at Cornell Tech, kicks off the Startup Award finalist presentations.

Cornell Tech ‘Open Studio’ celebrates innovation, impact

An intelligent assistant to manage gut disorders and an app that facilitates personal growth through continuous feedback from co-workers were among the winners of the fifth annual Startup Awards competition, held May 17 at Cornell Tech.

A panel of tech industry experts selected the four winning student teams, which each will receive pre-seed funding worth up to $100,000 and co-working space at the Tata Innovation Center on the Cornell Tech campus.

Demonstrations featured videos and interactive displays about student projects and acquired companies.

“The Startup Awards is a celebration of Cornell Tech’s core principles of innovation, teamwork and creating solutions to real-world problems,” said David Tisch, head of Startup Studio at Cornell Tech and managing partner of BoxGroup. “This year, I’m excited to see an increase in hardware companies developed along with software solutions across a wide range of industries.”

This year’s winners are:

  • Auggi: An intelligent assistant to manage chronic gut disorders, which afflict 1 in 5 Americans;
  • Corcus: A platform helping the next generation of small companies manage and deploy their business;
  • Grow: An app facilitating personal growth through continuous feedback from co-workers’ feedback on Slack;
  • Otari: A smart exercise mat for yoga, pilates and other exercises.

The winners were selected from 11 teams with projects ranging from health care to robotics to travel and fashion. “All of the students are passionate about what they’re working on,” Tisch said.

The eight finalists for the startup awards included a smart mirror, digital concierge service and timely flight-booking assistance.

The Startup Awards are a capstone of Cornell Tech’s Studio curriculum, which brings together multidisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems. In their final semester, students form teams and enroll in Startup Studio, where they develop startup ideas and prototypes.

This year Cornell Tech launched a new Studio track called BigCo, which focuses on preparing students to innovate within companies. Students from seven BigCo teams also gave presentations on their products, including an occupancy tracking system enabling better housekeeping experiences and guest services for Carnival Cruise Line.

Open Studio also offered five “demo labs” – packed by classmates, colleagues, investors and parents – featuring video and interactive displays of student tech projects and acquired companies.

Four companies founded at Cornell Tech have been acquired so far, said Dan Huttenlocher, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech. Most recently, Bowtie, an AI receptionist that can book appointments, was acquired by MINDBODY earlier this month.

Huttenlocher attributed the companies’ success, in part, to the interdisciplinary focus of Cornell Tech’s programs, which encourage collaborations among students in computer science, operations research, information engineering, business, health tech, connective media, electrical and computer engineering, and law.

More than 70 startups have been formed on the Cornell Tech campus, through Startup Studio and the Runway Startup Postdoc Program at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute.

Jon Craig ‘80 is a writer based in New York City.

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Gillian Smith