Student Projects on Display at Lehigh University’s Technical Entrepreneurship Venture Fair
By Kat Schneider on May 20, 2019
An app for ensuring health and success of student athletes, an ergonomic gaming mouse named Trigger, and a hair product based on the results of an individual strand test, were a few of the products showcased at Lehigh University’s Technical Entrepreneurship Venture Fair.
Held on May 10 at the university’s Wilbur Powerhouse, the Venture Fair was the culmination of Lehigh’s Master’s Degree in Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) program, which provides training in the art and practice of creating new companies while bringing revolutionary products and services to market.
“We’re creating problem solvers, and everybody needs that skill,” said Marsha Timmerman, the program’s director.
At the outset of the program, many students may have ideas, but are afraid of taking the next steps, she said. Through the program, student entrepreneurs create, refine, and commercialize intellectual property through the licensing or launching of a new business.
“The program doesn’t require people to come in as engineers and some of the products may need some engineering, but the program integrates art, psychology and poetry and making it all fit together,” she said.
Each of the 19 products were judged in four areas: Idea, Product/Service, Go to Market Strategy, and Team.
The first place prize package was claimed by Hansen Liang, creator of an enhanced gaming mouse dubbed “Trigger.” Created through his proposed LLC, Omniarc, the mouse is designed for use in eSports. As part of the program, Liang surveyed 1,200 gamers and found that 20 percent experienced hand and wrist pain and the idea of an ergonomic mouse was born.
Liang, who holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette University, said he came to the program after spending three years in the private sector. The TE program gave him access to a 3-D printer and the freedom, guidance, and real-world feedback to get his product into a prototype phase.
“I didn’t feel like I was just doing assignments,” said Liang, who will receive services from Lesavoy Butz & Seitz LLC in creating an LLC and operating agreement.
Second place went to Amobe, a mobile application platform designed to improve student-athlete self-awareness. The brainchild of Hannah Leskow and Adrian Vitello, Amobe uses a four-factor assessment tool that helps student athletes maintain health and wellness.
Leskow and Vitello surveyed 100 student athletes, four sports psychologists and 20 coaches to gather input for their creation. Both student athletes themselves, they wanted to solve the challenges facing students who are trying juggling school, relationships, and mental and physical health.
“When student athletes don’t have the resources, they struggle,” Leskow said. “We want them to enjoy the overall experience. Being a student athlete should be fun.”
The winners were part of the TE program’s seventh cohort. Started in the 2012-13 academic year, the 11-month, 30-credit in-residence program draws upon Lehigh’s deep-rooted and powerful ecosystem of programs dedicated to the teaching of business and technology innovation.
The curriculum includes one-third skill-building, one-third entrepreneurial theory and product development, and one-third development of their own products and companies. Students in the program learn by experiencing the idea-to-venture process in an educational environment that’s hard-wired to support the development of novel, innovative, and commercially viable technologies.
“We do push creative processes,” Timmerman said. “The world is full of problems and we teach them to tackle them in new and better ways.”
During the program, students can take advantage of Lehigh’s laboratories, alumni network, and vast entrepreneurial network, including such regional partners as Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Bethlehem’s Keystone Opportunity Zone, Timmerman said.
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