BenDaniel Venture ChallengeThe Annual Pitch Competition hosted by the Big Red Ventures
The BenDaniel Venture Challenge (BVC) is Big Red Venture’s Annual Pitch Competition. Five finalists will pitch their business ideas to an investor panel during Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration. Winners of the competition will earn up to a cash prize totaling $25K (an additional $25K match if the technology is licensed through Cornell) to push their idea forward. The 2024 competition will take place at Cornell University on April 12, 2024 from 8:30am – 10am in the Statler Ballroom.
Applications for the 2024 competition are now open and will be accepted through March 22, 2024.
Prize Money – $25,000+
Applications Received Annually – 100+
Number of Years Running – 12
or New York State based company
April 12, 2024
Applications open: February 29
Applications close: March 18
BVC Participants and Judges
2023 BenDaniel Venture Challenge
- Maia Benson, MBA ’06: Partner, Forum Ventures
- Deb Kemper, ’88: Managing Partner, Golden Seeds Venture Fund
- Marc Silberman ’12: Partner, Comcast Ventures
Abstractive Health helps doctors read and write their medical notes faster through an automated summary of the patient chart. We are the cliff notes for healthcare. Physicians use our summary to save time and make more revenue per visit. Our summary is automated through state-of-the-art generative AI using NLP and we have a patent for our method. We currently have a pilot with NewYork Presbyterian, partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine, and are part of the Cornell Tech Runway Program.
Navigating complex legal documents can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for those in the creator economy, leading to situations of underdeveloped contracts and un-equitable terms. That’s why we offer services to help creatives understand their contracts and avoid being taken advantage of. Users can directly upload their contracts and receive the simplified explanations and industry benchmarks around each clause within seconds. We make contracts simple and accessible, enabling individuals to take control of their contracts and careers.
Levelle Nutrition is a sports food company empowering female athletes with fuel formulated for their physiology. We aim to revolutionize the sports nutrition industry by tailoring products to the female metabolism. Our first products are our organic Energy Purées. We use low-glycemic, plant ingredients to deliver a sustained release of energy, without a side serving of agony. Our Energy Purées are shelf-stable and made with all organic ingredients. Unlike other energy gels, our products – which taste good and offer real-food nutrition – can cross into the organic, health or snack markets.
REEgen is reimagining the global rare earth supply by replacing the most harmful production steps with clean, genetically optimized, microbial processes, securing these critical elements for a future of unbounded, widespread renewable energy. Using cleaner biological processes, and through recycling of waste and end-of-life products, REEgen aims to regenerate the U.S. rare earth economy to sustainably meet the nation’s full demand at a competitive price, and with minimal environmental impact.
StaffOnTap is a marketplace connecting understaffed nursing homes and temporary nurses
2022 BenDaniel Venture Challenge
- Aaron Proujansky: Angel Investor and Principal at Greengage LLC and an EIR at Cornell
- Jack McGowan: Project Manager at Insyte Consulting and Investor at Buffalo Angels
- Jordan Bettman: Partner at Radian Capital
Epic Airway Systems, Inc. is an early stage, pre-revenue medical device start-up based on Schenectady that has created a new, patented airway treatment to address $2.6 billion airway market. The Epic Airway device is the Swiss Army Knife of airway treatment – combining the best of existing airway to provide the right tool for the right procedure; making it easier to use than traditional airway devices, while also being safer for patients and healthcare providers, and more cost effective for healthcare systems.
The Heat Inverse thin-film passively cools applications that lose efficiency when heated. Our mission is to revolutionize cooling technologies across a number of industries and profitably reduce greenhouse gasses by more than a GT of CO2eq emissions at full deployment. Our beachhead market is the refrigerated long-haul trucking industry where Heat Inverse provides more than a 25% increase in fuel efficiency for refrigeration via application of the thin-film to the outside of refrigerated truck trailers.
VitaScan creates the tools and knowledge to help people access the relevant micronutrient information and get professional advice on what they can do about it. Our easy-to-use tests enable a truly accessible and scalable solution for the first time. We can deliver quantitative results like in a lab, except we only need a fingerstick of blood and 10 minutes. Instead of having to go to a lab, VitaScan can be used where it’s most useful, like in a dietitian’s office or even on the kitchen table.
HairDays is a B2B SaaS hair intelligence platform that leverages big data and machine learning to provide hyper-personalized guidance on hair health, regimens, and product discovery. At HairDays we’re building a world where individuals have access to the transparent information & products that optimize their hair & scalp health, while haircare brands & health professionals have the insights & data to provide the best solutions for their customer’s hair health goals.
The BixBox™ is the only product on the market that provides property managers portfolio-wide notifications and insights on the most frequently-cited issues identified by renters and landlords. Additionally, our device can connect to the internet via cell towers, decreasing reliance on changing WiFi details from tenants. Moreover, our sleek, intuitive, and user-friendly interface is unique – most maintenance-related hardware devices (and Ui) are bulky and unsightly. Finally, our notification system allows for push notifications, email, text, and phone calls.
2021 BenDaniel Venture Challenge
- Eric Young, Canaan Partners
- Meghan Cross, Amplifyher Ventures
- Chip Meakem, Tribeca Venture Partners
- Andrew Schoen, New Enterprise Associates
Pelex is a clinical solutions provider for pelvic health, currently developing a medical device platform for treatment of disorders of the pelvic floor. These conditions, which include urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, affect up to 1 and 4 adult American every year. Current treatments are either invasive, time consuming or both. Our non-invasive, home-based platform offers two therapies – active EMG-based pelvic floor physical therapy, and passive neurostimulation – and is connected to a cloud platform that allows results tracking.
Symba, an all-female founded tech startup, is the leading remote internship platform. The team has designed 5000+ internship experiences, partnered with over 450 universities, and was featured in the Washington Post and TechCrunch as a leader in the remote internship movement. Symba, an all-female-founded tech startup, is democratizing access to the workforce through remote internships. Symba’s platform helps companies curate’s meaningful remote internship experiences. Symba is the leader behind remote internships as featured in Forbes, Washington Post, and TechCrunch.
Light Lace™ is a soft and stretchable sensor that can bend and twist with the human form for motion capture, muscle activity and respiration measurements on the field. Based on fiber-optic technology, Light Lace™ offers sensibility, elasticity, washability and high speed measurements in real time and at a fraction of the cost. ORC’s first product is a smart shirt that uses Light Lace™ to predict muscle fatigue to enhance performance and prevent injuries for high performance individuals such as athletes and warfighters.
Inso Bio is an early-stage biotechnology startup from Cornell developing automatable platforms to streamline cell sample preparation workflows. Currently, biological sample preparation is a major bottleneck to genomic analysis and requires extreme user skill, lengthy time-consuming protocols, involves high sample loss, significant sample quality variability, and completely lacks approaches capable of handling smaller sample volumes. By addressing these issues, Inso Bio can enable the next steps in the democratization of genomics for critical applications in both precision medicine and science.
Heat Inverse’s vision is to revolutionize cooling technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emission by using a mid-infrared window in Earth’s atmosphere to passively emit heat. Heat Inverse has a photonic metamaterial in a thin- film format. Refrigeration units on refrigerated truck are powered by 50-gallon diesel tanks and consume In 2016, U.S. regulations were established that mandated a 25% decrease in emissions by 2026. This has motivated the industry to invest in technologies that reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency of trucking fleets.
2020 BenDaniel Venture Challenge
- Eric Young, Canaan Partners
- Christopher Hemmeter, Thayer Ventures
- Del Johnson, Backstage Capital
- Deb Kemper, Golden Seed Ventures
- Arsham Memarzadeh, LightSpeed Ventures
For those that can’t breastfeed for a variety of reasons, SimpliFed helps bridge the gap between infant formula and breast milk with our combined infant formula and companion mobile health tool to give parents increased transparency into their infant’s health. Through our telehealth platform with on-call nurse practitioners and lactation consultants, this technology will help parents more effectively troubleshoot with their pediatrician and contribute to supporting an optimal nutritional balance for the infant from their own homes. SimpliFed’s technology is also supported by an algorithm that is being developed while we are collecting and analyzing the properties of thousands of infant stools with our scientific partners in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Based on our learnings from the biobank, we will leverage these insights to fuel the development of an evidence-based infant formula with traceable and transparent ingredients. If we do this right, millions of babies will receive proper nutrition, parents will stress less about their child’s health and transition back to work, and the field of infant nutrition will move significantly forward.
mPOD is in-vitro POC medical device designed for rapid detection of species-specific pathogens in biofluids. Our focus is improving sepsis outcomes – providing ER physicians and nurses, who see 95% of sepsis cases, actionable insights from a un-processed sample in under 15 mins.
Re-Nuble, an agtech company transforming the global fertilizer supply chain, has a patent-pending nutrient delivery system producing fertilizers that are 2X more cost-effective than the dominant soilless fertilizers, and enables soilless farms to produce certified-organic food.
OWiC Technologies’ mission is to better connect physical objects to the digital world, both to solve existing problems and to create new opportunities. Pressing problems like counterfeiting and fraud persist due to the lack of tools for uniquely identifying, tracking, and authenticating physical objects. Similarly, exciting new opportunities would be enabled by greater connectivity of physical objects to digital records. More transparent supply chains, traceability of goods, more effective marketing, and information dissemination are just some of the applications with immense, untapped potential for positive impact.
Infertility remains an unremitting reproductive issue that affects about 186 million people worldwide, and in the U.S., ~8% of women of child-bearing age. In vitro fertilization helps with fertilization, embryo development, and implantation. We are STORK.ai, the next-generation fertility company. We developed a unique software using an artificial intelligence approach, STORK, to reliably assess embryo quality and detect aneuploidies. STORK was trained on larger and better characterized datasets than other similar software and ultimately achieved an embryo grading performance of 98% accuracy. Our team and advisory board consists of experts across computational biology and reproductive medicine from Weill Cornell Medicine.
2019 BenDaniel Venture Challenge
- Eric Young, Canaan Partners
- Thatcher Bell, Gotham Ventures
- Randy Brandoff, TIA Ventures
- Deb Kemper, Golden Seed Ventures
- Ryoko Nozawa, Cayuga Venture Fund
1st Place: OneThreeBiotech
2nd Place: EINO
3rd Place: Xallent
2016 Cornell Venture Challenge
- Eric Young, Canaan Partners
- Meghan Cross, Red Bear Angels
- Felix Litvinsky, Blackstone Entrepreneurship
- Leonard Sanders, Kalmar Investments
MachineMade.io [Maria Shen]
17% of 2015 US e-commerce was in apparel and accessory retail ($60B). The number of creators launching small to medium size e-commerce businesses is growing by 10% year over year. To get their apparel inventory made, creators still have to go to trade shows, talk to agents, and fly around the world to visit factories. The manufacturing industry is a completely new frontier for technology – no one has integrated pricing, sampling, and production into a single platform. At MachineMade.io, creators can sample from multiple factory sources and produce with the best supplier for their needs, all from their browser.
FloraPulse [Michael Santiago]
Flora Pulse has developed the only sensors that can measure how thirsty a plant is, automatically and real-time. These sensors will help vineyards, and growers in general, increase yields and product quality, while reducing water use. Our vineyard users can expect 12% higher revenues and >20% water savings because of never-before-possible field maps of water stress, delivered digitally. Our turnkey solution only requires a yearly per-acre fee and we do the rest!
RoboTC [Wilson Pulling]
RoboTC is a universal brain for robots. Our plug- and-play hardware and simple software modules instantly give any robot the ability to do incredible things. We neutralize the two largest problems facing anyone building a robot: writing code to give it intelligence, and integrating that code with it’s hardware. RoboTC is accelerating the robotics revolution by democratizing state-of-the-art robotics development.
Twiage [John Hui]
Twiage is an award-winning prehospital communication platform that enables hospitals to triage incoming ambulances. Twiage reduces the need for antiquated radio communication and delivers real-time patient data from ambulances directly to hospitals. Powered by a proprietary algorithm and GPS-tracked ETA, Twiage provides hospitals and Emergency Departments with complete situational awareness about incoming ambulance traffic, so hospitals can more efficiently manage Emergency Department’s throughput and prehospital coordination, while improving performance measures, patient outcomes, referral relationships, and reducing costs.
S.A.L.T. [Fon Powell]
Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 1 in 3 (78 million) Americans and exceeds $51 billion in yearly costs to the US healthcare system. Importantly, high blood pressure is the #1 cause of preventable death worldwide and sodium is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure. Sodium Analyte Level Test (S.A.L.T.) is the first smartphone-based device on the market capable of measuring daily salt intake at home. The device, consisting of a disposable stick and mobile app, utilizes computer vision processing and a patented algorithm to provide a physiological measurement of daily salt intake from one urine sample.
2013 Cornell Venture Challenge
Cognical (First Place)
Founded by Brandon Wright MBA’12 and Chinedu Eleanya ’12, Cognical builds intelligent decision engines. Cogincal uses the most sophisticated deep learning algorithms in the world to find hidden and complex patterns in data that are predictive of successful outcomes. Their SaaS platform drives revenue and cost savings for industries in which execution requires recurring decisions based on imperfect data, including finance, insurance, and marketing.
Empire Robotics (Second Place)
Founded by Bill Culley ’06, MEng ’07, MBA ’12 and John Amend PhD ’13, Empire Robotics is a Cornell University technology spinout. The company has an exclusive license to IP developed at Cornell, and is commercializing a platform robotics technology through its first product, a universal robot gripper. This gripper solves a fundamental problem in the $25B industrial automation market of gripping and manipulating varied objects. Manufacturers in food processing, automotive, consumer goods, and more are the end customers.
Oratel (Third Place)
Led by CEO, John Tauzel MBA’12, Oratel Diagnostics has developed the initial application of a breakthrough technology platform. The first product identifies the ideal period to inseminate dairy cattle. Using our rapid, in-field prototyping approach, we have demonstrated the ability to save farms at least $100/cow/year. Our product provides an instant, simple, cost-effective solution. The company is ready to deliver this unique product to the global dairy market. Longer-term, the technology will be extended to other livestock and human fertility issues.
HistoVision provides proprietary technology to improve existing cancer clinical pathology tests by enabling the simultaneous detection of two cancer biomarkers rather than one. Combined with copyrighted software for rapid and standardized quantification, this technology yields superior diagnostic and prognostic clinical indicators, while nearly doubling reimbursement rates for the clinical laboratory. Histovision’s CEO is Victor Fedorov.
Yorango is an online platform for posting, browsing, renting, leasing, and managing property. Yorango combines a property discovery system with a property management tool. Potential tenants can browse through listings, rent and sublet spaces, pay rent online, communicate with their landlords, and manage their space. Landlords can use Yorango to keep tabs on their properties, process maintenance requests, organize rental payments, and manage their business.
2010 Cornell Venture Challenge
Cortical Concepts (CEO: Evan Luxon) Cortical Concepts has developed a device for use in spinal surgery that increases the strength of fixation in osteoporotic bone.
Expedient Shopping (CEO: Jing Wang) Expedient Shopping redefines the online shopping experience for women by offering the highest discounts on brand new, authentic designer goods.
Ezra Pharmaceutical (CEO: Daniel Knecht) Ezra Pharmaceutical Inc. is a start-up whose mission is to develop a first ever preventative treatment for diabetes-associated blindness.
RainSaucers (CEO: Thomas Spargo) RainSaucers Inc. has developed a low-cost rainwater collection system that can provide safe drinking water for families in developing countries.
ZetrOZ (CEO: Bryant Guffey) ZetrOZ? is building the first and only wearable pain therapy system which uses ultrasound to lower pain, increase mobility, and heal injuries without the use of drugs.
2009 Cornell Venture Challenge
Bombyx Technologies: Bombyx Technologies regenerates eyesight that has been lost due to injury. Through innovative technology this medical device company will introduce a less expensive, less invasive, and more effective alternative to the current solution (corneal transplants).
Sound Reading Solutions, Inc.: Sound Reading Solutions (SRS) is a revolutionary literacy system based on advanced neurological research into dyslexia, which affects 30% of English language readers. Our innovative software and reading practice produces unrivaled improvement (> 1 standard deviation) by using proprietary cognitive learning methods. SRS is fun, fast and effective.
iFyber LLC: iFyber LLC seeks to be the world leader in customized nanotechnology based fabric treatments, processes and products for the military, medical and technical textile markets.
1st Place Prize
2nd Place Prize
3rd Place Prize