“Innovation Nights” is a series of events organized by a grassroots company with the goal of supporting local start up companies and innovators. The first of these events was held right here at UConn, at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.
Nine products and innovations were featured at the event. It was an open event with booths set up and product displays to walk through at your leisure. Each innovator competed for over 30 days for votes in order to get specific time at last night’s event. The winners of this contest were Obvia LLC with their wind turbine, the Mobility Assistance Sling, the Badger Medical Collar and RecordME.co.
The wind turbine by Obvia LLC, a Connecticut-based wind turbine design, engineering and manufacturing company, aims to make harnessing wind energy more cost effective and efficient. Their new design involves dual-winglet rotor blades and a semi-shroud wing to capture 44 percent more energy from wind with a smaller environmental footprint than any existing wind turbine. While the display they had was only a prototype, they are working to get a 600 watt design.
The Mobility Assistance Sling, by B2 Products, was the creation of an EMT. It’s a versatile sling designed to ergonomically aid in lifting or assisting individuals with limited mobility. It makes this aid more comfortable and dignified for the person in need as well as less strenuous on the EMT or any other person doing the lifting. It’s constructed from heavy-duty nylon and polypro webbing and boasts a versatile and flexible design. Target consumers are fire-rescue and EMS agencies, elderly/disabled patient care, nursing or medical facility personnel and rehab services.
The Badger Medical Collar, or immobilization/extrication collar, by Dba Bariatric Collar, LLC is a device designed for when traditional cervical collars won’t fit a patient. This fills the EMS need, especially in emergency situations. The adjustable design is quick, easy, comfortable and lightweight. It’s also floatable and waterproof. The BMC does not restrict air or blood flow and is easily removable, making it a useful tool for emergency responders.
RecordME.co is a unique device that allows music-lovers to create record-studio quality music from any venue. All one has to do is connect to the internet with their simple box-like device and the company provides the engineer and distribution, providing a great way to reach new audiences and make the music industry more accessible and lucrative to people who may not be signed with record labels.
Innovation Women was also present at the event, advertising their website: an online speakers’ bureau that allows you to connect and invite female speakers for entrepreneurial and technical events. Women pay to be members of the site, so it’s not an open forum, but this means there is typically incentive for communication. The process of finding a speaker is simple, with event coordinators merely needing to go on the site and search topics or locations.
“It’s incredibly varied, it’s not all just professionals. We advertise speakers who are technical, entrepreneurs or innovative but many are just hands-on, experienced women,” founder Bobbie Carlton said.
Two Happy Homes is a website created by Traci Whitney after her divorce and it’s goal is to make co-parenting easier and to facilitate the care of children in homes of divorced parents. It gives users resources like shared calendars, expense tracking, medical information, contact storage, online messaging and expert advice. It launched in 2012 and has even been used in judge-mandated situations regarding divorced families.
“You’ll never see the word divorce on the site. I don’t want people to feel like it’s a negative environment, it’s very upbeat content. It provides a neutral environment for communication for families that need it. Divorce isn’t what it used to be and this makes it less complicated,” Whitney said.
One of the larger inventions featured at Innovation Night was the Ginzvelo Human Electric Cycle. District Director at Ginzvelo, Philip Huerter, recently won the Connecticut Innovations CTNext Award. The chargeable cycle, a method of sustainable transportation, can go up to 30 mph, operates on an aerodynamic design and was even featured on the Discovery Channel.
Other start-ups featured were Noteworthy Chocolates, the world’s only chocolate engraving company, as well as the CuStickers App, created by UConn professor Alex Tung and the EatOutWith.Me app, which automates the hospitality industry and lessens the disconnect between businesses and customers.
“We’re trying to facilitate opportunities between local innovators and UConn. We’re raising awareness of these innovation and business opportunities amongst faculty, staff and students. We aim to inspire and hope that being exposed to these innovations and what’s happening in Connecticut will get people to stay here. We’re engaging students to be part of the community,” UConn Office of Service Learning program director Julia Yakovich said.
“We are trying to bring out the localness in innovation. The participants in these events are looking for exposure for their products and start-ups. These are free events, all we ask is for people to say something while they’re here,” Angelina Capalbo, Director for CT Innovation Nights, said.
This series of events is inspired by a similar model in Boston. Capalbo and Innovation Nights aspire to run these evenings once a month in the future, ultimately promoting 144 CT products a year and creating a more effective outlet for innovation in our state.
This event was cosponsored by Innovation Nights, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the UConn Office of Public Engagement.
Julia Mancini is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.