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Seven entrepreneurial teams triumph at Newark Innovation event, earn spot in NJIT accelerator program

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Laura Osorno was one of the winners of the Newark Innovation event, for developing a specific skin cream that would ease suffering caused by stretch marks among pregnant women and other groups.
Laura Osorno was one of the winners of the Newark Innovation event, for developing a specific skin cream that would ease suffering caused by stretch marks among pregnant women and other groups. - (Aaron Houston)

Take a battery powered cane, goggles and wrist bands — each embedded with proximity sensors — and what do you get?

New Jersey Institute of Technology undergraduate Fabio Arias believes it's a distinct formula that will reduce injury and improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

Enough contest judges at the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge agreed to give Arias — along with six other teams of budding entrepreneurs — a boost by providing access to $3,000 capital plus mentorship.

NJIT held its fifth annual acceleration event Monday. Arranged in combination with Capital One Bank, it is designed to provide young aspirants feedback and resources to help launch startups.

Judges selected seven winners, four student-led teams and three from the Newark area. In addition to capital, winners gained enrollment in a 10-week accelerator program next summer at NJIT's Enterprise Development Center.

"What stood out for me is the ideas were relevant to lots of people in terms of problems they were trying to solve," said judge Daniel Delahanty, senior director of community development banking for Capital One.

Arias, a mechanical and industrial engineering student, designed his product, SenVis, to sense potentially dangerous steps — such as a dip from an oncoming stairwell — and communicate that information to the walker. The arrangement relies on vibrations, facilitated by Bluetooth technology, to help the user to interact with their surroundings.

Arias hopes the end result, projected to sell for around $200, will be less expensive and more practical than alternatives, such as seeing-eye dogs. His originality earned first-place recognition among the student teams.

"SenVis definitely had a different spin on it," said event judge Chike Uzoka, an entrepreneur and small business consultant.

Other winners included, among students:

  • Tremra, presented by Chaitali Gandhi, which is developing a portable wristband using sensor technology to create vibrations that ease symptoms of kinetic tremor;
  • Koala Band, presented by Daniel Tanis, which uses a wireless diagnostic tool, intended to be eventually used at home, to improve diagnosis of sleep apnea;
  • S&D, Science and Dermatology, presented by Laura Osorno, which is developing a specific skin cream that would ease suffering caused by stretch marks among pregnant women and other groups.

Three winners were chosen from the community:

  • Elmes Recycling, presented by Omar Elmes, would establish a checkpoint stage to filter recyclable computers, separating good computers and parts that can be resold versus ones to be discarded, thus reducing load on landfills.
  • TM2002, presented by Tamer Marshood, would engage youth to fight global hunger by participating in read-a-thons and related fundraisers;
  • Rogers Standard Property, presented by Crystal Rogers, purchases multifamily units and rents spaces to low-income people, especially those with Section 8 vouchers who are forced to find new quarters after the closing of housing projects.

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