Where Are They Now?

Updates From Past Participants

2015 Competition

results from 2015 Competition 

2015 Competition Winner:
WAVVE Stream Inc. from University of Houston, Texas

WAVVE Stream Inc. is a water filtration company producing a patented graphene-based nanotechnology that enables existing water filtration systems to simultaneously remove various contaminants. The company manufactures a liquid solution that can be applied to filter membranes and beads that can be integrated to water filtration filters.

WAVVE Stream Inc. is proud to announce that they have been accepted into the H2O Challenge 2015! The accelerator program is taking place in Madrid, Spain from November 23rd to December 4th, 2015.

"After an intense admission process, it is an honour for me to notify you that you have been finally selected as one of the top ten most promising water startups in the world and therefore one of the ten participants of the H20 Challenge. We are truly excited about having you joining us in this incredible opportunity." - Pablo Gonzalez Ruiz de la Torre (Head of Global Entrepreneurship).

WAVVE has successfully scaled up their technology and produced its first kilogram of product in July 2015. The company has improved their business plan and continues to enter competitions to help raise seed money, increase technology testing results, and gain new potential customers. 

The company has received numerous awards over the past year such as 1 of 50 worldwide start-ups attending The 7th Annual Kairos Global Summit in Hollywood, 1st place for the Food & Agriculture Prize, and many more!

2014 Competiton

results from 2014 Competition

2014 Competition Winner
Disease Diagnostic Group, Inc. from Case Western University, USA

Disease Diagnostic Group, Inc. offers a RAM device designed to provide a one-minute, handheld diagnosis of malaria with one drop of blood from a fingertip at one-tenth of the cost and with one-hundred times the detection level of current competitors.

This company has received numerous achievements over the past year such as an exclusive license with Argonne National Lab, a partnership with Denka Ltd. and Bosch Healthcare, and the opportunity to expand their technology to multiple diseases. The team was also able to raise over $1 million in non-equity cash in 2015. 

More updates on the website can be found at

2013 Competition

results from 2013 Competition

2013 Competition Winner:
Empire Robotics, Inc. from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Empire Robotics, Inc. is commercializing a platform robotics technology through its first product, a universal robot gripper. Gripping and manipulating varied objects addresses a fundamental problem in industrial automation.

Empire Robotics, Inc. has been recognized by multiple media resources such as ABC News, Discovery Channel, Yahoo and many more.

The company has launched several new versions of their product and they are currently developing potential partnerships with companies established in the industry.

2011 Competition

results from 2011 Competition

2011 Finalist:
Imbed Biosciences from University of Wisconsin, Madison

Imbed Biosciences is developing a line of nanotechnology-based advanced dressings for wound healing and surgical applications that are 'easy on skin and hard on bacteria.'

In January 2014, Imbed received a $150K Phase 1grant from NSF to develop a microfilm dressing containing metallic silver and gallium to fight bacteria living inside bacterial biofilms in wounds. 

In July 2014, the company received a $1.5M Phase II award from the National Institutes of Health to complete development of its ultra thin microfilm wound dressings with silver nanoparticles and to bring it into clinics. The award will support safety and efficacy testing in animal wound models. In Aug 2014, Imbed did an initial closing on its first seed equity investment round with $680K, lead by WISC Partners. And, over the next 12-18 months, the company plans to launch the microfilm silver dressings in animal health care market, and obtain regulatory clearance for marketing in human health care market for treatment of burns and chronic ulcers.

2008 Competition

results from 2008 Competition

2008 Competition Winner:
MicroTransponder, Inc., from University of Texas, Dallas

MicroTransponder Inc. has raised $7.4M in funding from grants and private capital to develop a wireless neurostimulation technology platform for the treatment of chronic pain and several other neurological indications. The minimally invasive device is able to deliver precise stimulation to the areas of pain around the peripheral nerves, with no implanted batteries or wires. The Company is finishing R&D on the device and accumulating data toward FDA clearance in addition to building out its management team with experienced executives from companies such as Cyberonics and Advanced Bionics. 

2008 Global Award Recipient:
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, EcoRegen

EcoRegen is a biotechnology start up with a business plan to regenerate wastes into resources for a sustainable ecology in the global market.  Since its win in 2008, the start up has seized upon spin-off opportunities and established three separate enterprises. "I would not have seen the possibilities of doing so without the valuable insights and knowledge exchange I gained at the LES Competition," said EcoRegen CEO, Khai Yip.

While the Global Financial Crisis has severely affected investment confidence in Malaysia, where the winning business plan was targeted, the three spin-offs are reportedly doing fine.

They are:

2007 Competition

results from 2007 Competition

2007 Competition Winner:
Optimal Vision Corporation from the University of Illinois, Chicago

Optimal Vision Corporation is preparing to submit an STTR grant application in December 2009. The company has purchased laser equipment for research purposes and is teaming with an Ophthalmologist from Cornell University in New York for some key experimentation. With the new data, the Optimal Vision hopes to attract alternate funding sources such as venture capital money.

Team member Jay Vijayan is a Technology Manager with the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). His UIC team won the 2007 LES Foundation Graduate Student Competition for Optimal Vision Corporation, a start-up formed around a newly patented procedure to correct presbyopia, an age-associated loss of near vision. In addition to his work at UIC, his ongoing graduate studies, cultivating Optimal Vision, and training for the occasional marathon, Jay is looking forward to participating in the 2009 LES Foundation International Graduate Student Business Plan Competition—this time from the opposite side of the judging table.

2006 Competition

results from 2006 Competition

2006 Competition Winner:
SanoGene Therapeutics, Inc., from the University of Illinois, Chicago

SanoGene exclusively licenses key intellectual property and forms strategic partnership with Cato Research.

2005 Competition

results from 2005 Competition

2005 Competition Winner:
MedGen from Stanford University

MedGen team member Pete Johnson is currently employed as a manager of solar boiler engineering at Ausra, a venture and industrial partner backed large scale solar thermal technology company.  He has helped to build and commissioned two large solar thermal plants since joining the company. Pete is listed as an inventor on three patents for Allux Medical, the company he joined after graduating from Stanford, and on four patents filed by current employer Ausra. The company is currently growing its engineering team and preparing for a new product release.

2004 Competition

results from 2004 Competition

2004 Competition Winner:
Tangam Systems from Waterloo University, Ontario, Canada

Tangam Gaming, Inc. has crossed the R&D phase and is now in the commercialization phase. The company continues to grow and the "Tangam Solution" is now installed in several casinos. The company has entered into a strategic partnership with NICE Systems for worldwide distribution of the " Tangam Solution" by NICE and its channel partners. With a recent installation in Macau, China, their market and customer base has become global. With several patents pending and a significant product lead, the team feels Tangam is poised to capitalize on a growing demand for its unique solution.