Entrepreneurs recognized at Innovation Celebration

Entrepreneurs recognized at Innovation Celebration

CHAMPAIGN — Entrepreneurs celebrated the local Oscars of innovation Friday night, but without any of the flubs that marred the actual Oscars.

The biggest mistake occurred when an award category was being announced out of order, but that was quickly corrected.

"That's not as bad as the mistake we saw" Sunday, master of ceremonies Lori Gold Patterson joked after catching herself.

The annual Innovation Celebration was held at Parkland College for the first time in its 12 years.

"Every year we're really impressed with what this community produces," said Craig Rost, executive director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, which organized the event.

For Ashley Moy, CEO of Cast21, winning the student startup award is "a surreal and great moment for us."

"Exactly two years to date, (Chief Technology Officer Jason Troutner) and I decided to work on a project together, and I never would've thought that this senior design project could've grown into a medical-device company that it is today," Moy said.

Cast21 makes washable, breathable, waterproof exoskeletal casts and has raised $800,000 in funding. Moy hopes to have casts on patients before the end of the year.

Moy said she was surprised to win.

"These things are always sitting on pins and needles, waiting to see who's going to win," she said. "We're going up against some of our great friends and other fantastic young entrepreneurs."

THIS YEAR'S WINNERS

Entrepreneurial Excellence

Social venture award: Unit 4 school district's Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP)

Student startup award: Cast21

New venture award: PhotoniCare Inc.

Advocacy award: Jed Taylor

Management award: Laura Bleill of chambanamoms.com and University of Illinois Research Park

Innovation

Economic development impact award: II-VI EpiWorks

Longevity award: Litania Sports Group

2017 innovation transfer award: Dr. Frederic Kolb, University of Illinois

2017 Alexis Wernsing innovation award: Arielle Rausin, University of Illinois

2017 innovation in engagement award: Jenni Fridgen, Parkland College

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