INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures has announced the winners of its first Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions. The organization says the events are designed to give promising Hoosier startups the chance to secure capital. Elevate Nexus was launched in July to provide funding to entrepreneurs and higher education institutions throughout the state in an effort to spur innovation.

Elevate Ventures Executive Director of University Initiatives and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jacob Schpok talked about the pitch competitions in an interview with Inside INdiana Business.

"This pitch competition is where we are investing in those entrepreneurs by providing convertible notes to startups that range from those with just an idea at this stage through those that have a minimum viable product and are slowly entering into the market," said Schpok. "We are investing dollars and treating them as portfolio businesses with the expectations that they're going to grow to become the next innovation-driven enterprises leading the economy in Indiana."

Schpok says the participants ranged from student-led teams bringing a software solution to the market to researchers from Indiana higher education institutions bringing solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense or National Science Foundation.

Schpok adds the organization was surprised and encouraged at the number of applications for the inaugural competitions.

"We had 75 companies in total apply for funding and those applications came from entrepreneurs working with 15 higher education institutions across our state. So the number of entrepreneurs and where they came from was a welcomed and encouraging surprise. The ideas as well...the innovation in the way that they're approaching our markets, as well as the solutions that they're bringing to the market was another terrific surprise that we saw."

The winners were broken down into three regions and two categories each. The categories were Pre-Seed, which includes a $20,000 investment for each winner, and Seed, which includes an $80,000 investment for each winner. Elevate Ventures will host another round of regional pitch competitions in February and the winners from both sets of competitions will move on to the statewide event in April for a chance to secure more funding.

The winners from the first competitions include:

Northern Indiana

Pre-Seed:

  • Digital Trade School LLC (aka Virtual Blockchain Bootcamp), South Bend - Prepares developers adequately for blockchain jobs and shortens the training time for employers.
  • ProstheTech LLC, South Bend - Provides affordable, customizable, and easy to use myoelectric prosthetic hands by harnessing the power of AI and Machine Learning.
  • ShopScope Inc., Roseland - Modernizing brick and mortar retail beginning with local fashion boutiques. We're building one website to shop your local fashion boutiques to make them more accessible, convenient, and therefore top-of-mind to local shoppers.

Seed:

  • CoolCorp Inc., Pierceton - An S-Corporation featuring portable ice wraps that offer improved outcomes, increased convenience, and lower costs to help nearly 150 million people reduce their pain and benefit their recovery.
  • StoryBolt, Hammond - A one-stop SaaS platform that connects organizations to documentary filmmakers and helps them each get access to the content that matters most to them.

Central Indiana

Pre-Seed: 

  • Indiana Lysis Technologies, Zionsville - A product-based drug discovery company founded through the IURTC SpinUp Program. The company develops safer clot digesting pharmaceuticals leveraging nanoparticles to reduce bleeding risk, expand indications for use, and ultimately save people's lives.
  • Neurava LLC, West Lafayette - A medical device startup developing a wearable, alerting device for monitoring impending risk of sudden, unexpected death (SUDEP) in epilepsy patients through multiple biomarkers.
  • Predictflow LLC, Middletown - Aims to help commercial contractors visualize their projected cash flow, communicate potential issues to the right people and plan ahead for cash crunches.

Seed:

  • HySonic Technologies LLC, West Lafayette - Specializes in the development of computational models for the simulation of flow problems of interest to the defense industry, and specifically in the design of hypersonic penetrating weapons for the Department of Defense.
  • The New Paper Inc., Indianapolis - Aims to overcome sensationalism in the media by making straightforward, factual news easy to consume. The company says it does that by building profitable, scalable news products that don't require clickbait to drive traffic.

Southern Indiana

Pre-Seed:

  • Enriched App LLC, New Albany - As 15 million young couples face radical stress due to financial pressure, Enriched Couples' web-mobile application guides couples through joint exercises to develop financial teamwork based on personal values.
  • Kynect Sport LLC, Cloverport - Provides high school basketball teams with in-depth statistical analysis using their game film with the goal of making players, coaches, and teams better.
  • Semiring Inc., Bloomington - Provides technologies in the AI and NLP domain to Transform Content to Knowledge, content of the type of text, spoken language, or image/video, and knowledge as structured data and content or in form of Knowledge, Scene, or Event Graphs.

Seed: 

  • Civic Champs Inc., Bloomington - Automates volunteer management and automatically converts volunteers to donors
  • Eclipse Orthopaedics LLC, Warsaw - The company says general orthopaedic surgeons in community hospitals will buy its X-ray drill attachment and bits to locate and drill blind holes because it is easier, faster and safer, eliminating 1/3 of the steps and 1/2 of the radiation.