Awards recognize student and faculty innovators

Lehigh’s outstanding student entrepreneurs were honored Thursday at the seventh-annual INNOVATE! CELEBRATE! awards dinner hosted by the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation. Winning ventures ranged from cross-cultural art projects and fashion exchanges to energy snacks and water purification systems.

“It’s because of people like (our winners) that our country is going to grow,” said John Thalheimer, alumni donor of the Joan F. and John M. Thalheimer ’55 Entrepreneurship Ventures Endowed Program. “It’s my firm belief that the best days of America are ahead of us, not behind us. Because of (them) we will do more in the future than in the past.”

The i Prize (Idea, Invention, Innovation, Imagination), a new award sponsored by Todd Welch ’10P, recognized the “coolest idea on the verge of implementation,” said Lisa Getzler-Linn, Baker Institute director of administration and programs. The award went to Streamback, founded by Lehigh seniors Allyson Coff ’12 and Alexander Galakatos ’12, which combines music downloading and charitable giving.

“It’s pretty awesome that Lehigh not only teaches us a lot of valuable skills but allows us to go and explore our own passions,” Coff said.

Marshall Nill ’15 received first place in the Eureka! Series Joan F. and John M. Thalheimer ’55 Student Entrepreneurs Competition for his Ogo Outdoor company, which focuses on recreational backyard products. “Every company starts their journey somewhere and I couldn’t think of a better place to start than here,” Nill said.

The Thalheimer Eureka! Series Grand Prize went to Douglas Kirk ’14G for his UVS Technologies, which provides unmanned aircraft that perform precision inspections of crops to monitor crop health and limit loss. This is the first year a Eureka! Series Grand Prize was awarded, thanks to the now fully endowed Thalheimer Fund.

• See full list of student winners

The Baker Institute helps Lehigh students move their ideas from dream to reality, providing resources: a platform to launch their ideas, seed funding, close mentoring, and a unique and exciting learning environment. It has benefited from the generous support of the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation.

Lehigh President Alice P. Gast called the Thalheimers “pioneers in support of student entrepreneurship and helping our students to achieve their goals … and make the world a better place through their inventions and innovations.” Dexter Baker, she said, has helped “put Lehigh on the map as a creative and entrepreneurial place.” Gast said she is inspired by Lehigh’s “entrepreneurial spirit.”

The Farrington Award for Outstanding Commitment to Entrepreneurship at Lehigh went to Dale Falcinelli ’70, ‘72G, Lehigh entrepreneur-in-residence, LehighSiliconValley director and VENTURESeries founding director

Stephen Tang ’85G, ’88G, president and CEO of University City Science Center in Philadelphia, gave the keynote address. “Innovation is economic development,” Tang said. “The Baker Institute (and other resources) can serve as innovation intermediaries. … Through these connections we can maximize the value of early-stage research … to create high-paying jobs.”

Photos by Daniel Coronel