OWiC Technologies wins BenDaniel Venture Challenge

A company developing microscopic optical scanning technology was named winner of the annual BenDaniel Venture Challenge, held virtually on April 17.

Five finalists presented at the annual pitch competition, hosted by BR Venture Fund. Traditionally, the competition takes place during the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration event, held on campus in April. A total of $25,000 in cash was awarded, with an additional $25,000 in matching services provided by Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing.

This collection of OWICs is barely visible to the naked eye.

The winning company, OWiC Technologies, was founded by Alejandro Cortese, M.S. ’14, Ph.D. ’19. The technology is an optical wireless integrated circuit (OWIC) in a microscopic footprint with a simple light-based interface for hand-held scanning. OWICs can be mass-produced at low cost and embedded as a chip in a multitude of products, including anti-counterfeiting technologies.

Runner-up in the competition was mPOD, an in-vitro, point-of-care medical device designed for rapid detection of species-specific pathogens in biofluids. Co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Ly ’15, M.Eng. ’17, said the technology, originally aimed at improving sepsis outcomes, is now being re-developed for possible use as a COVID-19 test.

The next step for the team is working in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, New York, on 100-sample validation study that has been approved by Cornell’s Institutional Review Board for Human Participant Research.

The event is named for the late David BenDaniel, the Don and Margi Berens Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of management, who died in 2017.

Debra Eichten is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

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