Media Release

Student inventors and entrepreneurs push the boundaries of science and technology to make our world healthier, greener.

Media invited to private Open Minds showcase in Washington, D.C.

March 19, 2015


Contact: Jo Ellen Warner Director of Communications 202-420-9297

Washington, D.C.—March 21, 2015—Twelve student teams from some of the most prestigious colleges and universities across the country will reveal biomedical, cleantech and global health innovations. The VentureWell, an education network that cultivates student innovation and entrepreneurship, will host its 19th annual Open Minds private showcase of student invention and innovation in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 21, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“Student inventors are at the heart of VentureWell. We invest in developing their skills and creativity, and help bring their ideas to market”, said Phil Weilerstein, president of VentureWell. “At Open Minds, our best student teams reveal cutting-edge technologies that can change the world.”

VentureWell’s innovative model of early support, mentoring and funding has changed the educational landscape for faculty, students and investors. The organization has given over $7.5 million in student grants and trained 500 student teams that have raised more than $620 million to grow and launch 200 new ventures. More than half of these ventures are still in business today, reaching millions of people in more than 50 countries with groundbreaking innovations.

This year’s inventions and innovations include:

  • Accuspine, a probe that helps surgeons more accurately place critical screws in spinal surgeries (Johns Hopkins University).
  • Afthon, a new type of engine designed to burn all types of fuel using a detonation process (University of Texas at Arlington).
  • Ambercycle, a process to break down PET plastic into high-value commodity chemicals (University of California Davis).
  • Briteseed, a novel laparoscopic surgical cutting tool that integrates optics to help surgeons navigate blood vessels (Northwestern University).
  • Calientagmigos, an electric hot water system for use in limited resource settings (Art Center College of Design).
  • Elegus Technologies, a Kevlar-based ultra strong, non-flammable battery separator for lithium ion batteries (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).
  • Iron Goat, A biomass-powered autonomous robot harvester that provides pelletized feedstock for livestock as well as power generation (George Mason University).
  • NaCa Fermentation, Inc., specialized yeast “beads” and fermenters allow for faster fermentations, feedstock versatility and decreased production costs to the ethanol fuel and adult beverage markets (University of Idaho).
  • Nonspec, low cost, durable and hyper-adjustable prosthetic limbs for people in developing nations (University of Massachusetts, Lowell).
  • Recon Therapeutics, the LyoKit Disposable Reconstitution System is a new patent-pending drug delivery technology that simplifies patient self-administration of biologic drugs (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
  • Ukweli Test Strips, using inkjet printing technology to create test strips for home use in Africa to screen for diseases such as diabetes and urinary tract infections, and to help overcome stigma associated with seeking health care to treat these illnesses (Pennsylvania State University – University Park).
  • Wireless Charging Pad/Wenergy, a low cost, high efficiency, and compact vehicle charging system that provides superior convenience compared to competitors (University of Akron).

Open Annual Conference

The Open Minds showcase is the conclusion of OPEN, March 20 -21, in Washington, D.C., March 20-21, VentureWell’s annual conference on science and technology innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education, which brings together students, faculty members, business leaders and investors to share best practices, lessons learned and inspiration to transform great ideas into global impact. Over 400 Open attendees are expected to attend the event at the Smithsonian.

About VentureWell

VentureWell was founded in 1995 as the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) and rebranded in 2014 to underscore its impact as an education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. A not-for-profit organization reaching more than 200 universities, VentureWell is the leader in funding, training, coaching and early investment that brings student innovations to market. Inventions created by VentureWell grantees are reaching millions of people in over 50 countries and helping to solve some of our greatest 21st century challenges. To learn more, visit

About The Lemelson Foundation

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention based enterprises to promote economic growth in the U.S. and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. Established by prolific U.S. inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in 1992, to date the Foundation has provided or committed more than $175 million in grants and program-related investments in support of its mission. For more information, visit

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