CHAMPAIGN — Serionix took the top monetary prize at the Cozad New Venture Competition this past weekend.
The company — which has come up with filter materials to remove perchlorate from drinking water — took first place in the Most Fundable Venture category, earning the firm $15,000.
Jim Langer, the firm's president, said he hopes to use the winnings for intellectual property development, such as filing patent applications, or business development, such as meeting with customers on the West Coast.
Langer said Serionix started a year ago as a result of taking part in the 2011 Cozad competition. But last year, the firm didn't make the finals.
"That served as motivation for us to work hard, and the results this year indicate it paid off," he said.
Before taking part in last year's competition, "we had no clear direction of what we really wanted to do, but as a result of the competition, and exposure to and connection with mentors, we were able to craft pieces for what ultimately became the company," he said. "Cozad was the spark that set it off."
Serionix recently won the Student Startup Award at Champaign County's Innovation Celebration and was a finalist for the Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize.
Other monetary winners at this year's Cozad competition included:
— GlucoSentient, which won a $10,000 prize as the Burrill Best Digital Healthcare Application. GlucoSentient aims to improve the lives of patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who take theophylline. It proposes home monitoring through use of a blood glucose meter.
— Transplants Without Donors, which won a $7,500 prize as Best Social Venture. That team invented a life-saving therapy based on the creation of artificial organs from the patients' stem cells and biomaterials.
— HigherMed, which won a $5,000 prize for second place in the Most Fundable Venture category. That team plans to develop and market an easier-to-use prescription pill bottle cap, primarily for people with decreased dexterity.
— Oso Simple Technologies and Prawg each won a $2,500 prize for Best Mobile Application. Oso Simple aims to reduce the water used on lawns and gardens, while Prawg focuses on real-time interaction between TV shows and their audiences. Prawg also won a $1,000 prize for Most Patentable Idea/Venture.
— StudyCloud won a $2,000 prize for third place in the Most Fundable Venture category. StudyCloud is an online collaboration platform poised at integrating social web technology with online education.
Twenty teams took part in the competition's semifinals, and nine advanced to Saturday's finals, held at the UI's Business Instructional Facility.
The finalists were: Easy Go Dispenser, EscaWheel, GlucoSentient, HigherMed, OceanComm, Serionix, StudyCloud, Transplants Without Donors and uZee.
The annual competition is named for V. Dale Cozad, founder of Cozad Asset Management. The program was established through an endowment from Peter and Kim Fox and is administered through the UI's Technology Entrepreneur Center.