Dr. Kevin White, Chief Operating Officer of Akron Ascent Innovations, gave a pitch to the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF) Deal Flow Committee on Wednesday at the Tinkham Veale University Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The pitch followed an earlier screening presentation given by Dr. White to the Notre Dame College chapter of NEOSVF and is the second stage of the group’s screening process.
“It was a real thrill to be selected by the screening committee and have the opportunity to pitch to the broader group,” said Dr. White. “The organization itself is fantastic and professionally run. I am a bit envious of the students getting this kind of exposure to entrepreneurship and business decision making in general during school. There wasn’t anything like this available during my time as an undergraduate and I really think the experience will be invaluable for them in the future, whatever their interests.”
AAI is a start-up company based out of the Akron Global Business Accelerator in Akron, OH. The focus of the company is on dry adhesives made by spinning polymer nanofibers. The nanofibers have an immense surface area and can grip onto a range of surfaces with remarkable strength, but still be easily removed after use without causing damage or leaving a residue. “The invention was inspired by nature’s greatest climber, the gecko,” said Dr. White. “There are a range of companies and technologies that have followed a similar idea, but our strategy to spin the fibers with a commercial process is the real innovation here. Our focus right now is to scale up the manufacturing in-house and with strategic partners, and to start getting products into people’s hands to get feedback. The engagement with the students is really the most valuable thing about this experience.”
NEOSVF was started in 2008 by graduate students at the University of Akron and has since expanded to include students from Kent State University, Walsh University, Notre Dame College, Case Western Reserve University, and the College of Wooster. Students with a broad range of backgrounds listen to investor presentations, engage the investors in an intensive due diligence process, and decide on which companies have the highest chance of success. The fund is supported by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. More information can be found at their website: www.neosvf.com.