Isenberg Student on Winning Innovation Challenge Team
April 03, 2015
Isenberg accounting major Rob Flanagan ’16 (third from left) and his three teammates have won this year’s top prize for their start-up, FogKicker, in the 2015 campus-wide Innovation Challenge business plan competition. The team earned a prize of $25,000 and fast-track status in the prestigious MassChallenge Business Plan Competition. It also won the contest’s Audience Choice award.
FogKicker plans to market a coating that prevents fog formation on plastics, glass and other surfaces. The coating condenses fog-enabling moisture to a thin film of water. Its superior longevity includes its waterproof properties. The team’s target market is the sports goggle industry, notably snow sports, which have 25 million participants in the United States alone.
FogKicker’s team composition exemplifies the Innovation Challenge’s interdisciplinary aim of marrying science, technology, and entrepreneurship. Besides Flanagan, who has a second major in economics, the team comprises three Ph.D. candidates in the sciences and engineering: Yinyong Li and Chia-Chih Chang in polymer science and engineering, and Kristopher Kolewe in chemical engineering.
The competition’s second-place prize, of $15,000, went to the team Nanosense, which has developed a bacterium-detection device that turns around results in minutes via a paper-based strip. Two $5,000 prizes were awarded to the teams DeepPap and Safe Siren. The former has developed a low-cost, portable, automated cervical cancer screening system. The latter plans to market an integrated safety system to prevent and combat crimes against students. A third $5,000 award—the David Wolf Prize—went to SINKrho. And a fourth $5,000 award—the Robert and Sandra Glass Innovation Fund Prize, was shared equally by FogKicker and Nanosense.
Master of ceremonies at the March 30th awards event was UMass Amherst Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Michael Malone. Before announcing the awards, he introduced William Wooldridge, the Isenberg management professor who is Managing Director of the one-year-old Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. Headquartered in Isenberg, the pan-campus center will host next year’s Innovation Challenge.