CLEVELAND, Oct. 24 -- Two early-stage companies each won $75,000 in the second annual International and North Coast Nanotechnology Business Idea Competitions held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University last week. Nanotechnology involves technological developments on a submicroscopic level.
AeroClay of Cleveland and Keystone Nano of State College, Pa., won over four other finalists in the competitions. AeroClay, which is being formed by Case professor David Schiraldi, won the North Coast competition for the best business idea from Northeast Ohio, and Keystone Nano, a medical imaging and drug delivery company based on research done at Pennsylvania State University, won the international competition. A panel of judges featuring representatives of venture capital firms, corporations and nanotechnology researchers chose the winners on Friday.
AeroClay is the name Schiraldi has given the product he developed by freeze-drying clay. The resulting material is 98 percent air and 2 percent clay, according to Schiraldi, an associate macromolecular professor at Case. It can be used in packaging or can be covered in a polymer to create lightweight materials for automobiles or other products.
Schiraldi said the $75,000 will be used to hire a market developer to help transform his idea into a business. "I considered myself kind of a long shot in the competition because we were the least far along in the process of forming a company around the idea," he said.
Keystone Nano also is in the early stages of building its company. It has developed molecular dots that can deliver both drugs and imaging solutions inside a patient's body. The dots are so tiny that they don't prompt a response from the body's immune system and can work more effectively. According to Jeff Davidson, chief executive of Keystone Nano, the company is pursuing government and private funding and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
More than 30 companies from eight countries entered the competition. The other finalists were: Columbus NanoWorks Inc. of Columbus, Ohio (tumor detection); NanoMark LLC of Cleveland (asthma monitoring system); NanoPatch AC of Twinsburg, Ohio (drug delivery system); and Reacta Corp. of Philadelphia (improved laundry detergents).
According to organizers, last year's top winner, QD Vision of Watertown, Mass., recently raised about $6 million in venture capital from Highland Capital Partners. QD Vision won for its quantum dot LED devices and manufacturing techniques developed at MIT.
Organizers of the 2005 competition include three programs at Case and Nano-Network, which was formed by scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers to improve and expand nanotechnology research and commercialization in northeast Ohio and nationally. The competition concluded Nano-Network's Nano Week, a series of events and programs focused on nanotechnology. Sponsors included ASM International, Nanofilm, Ferro Corp., Case, Forest City Enterprises, The Partnerships for Innovation Program of the National Science Foundation and the Joseph P. & Nancy F. Keithley Foundation.
For more information, visit: www.nano-network.org