KIZ program allows entrepreneurs to take “Next STEP”


Winners of the 2007 Thalheimer competition: (back row, l-r): Manan Shah, Andreas Uriarte, Brian Paul, Brian Holder and Prasun Chatterjee; (front row): RCEAS Dean David Wu, David Petrillo, Brittany Jaswell, Michael McCreary and CBE Dean Tom Hyclak.

Lehigh joined with the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone program in January to hand out the second annual KIZ Next STEP (Success Through Entrepreneurship in Pennsylvania) Awards.

In a luncheon at the Zoellner Arts Center, George Kledaras ’87, who develops financial software for instantaneous global trading, received the Farrington Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship. Kledaras, who holds a B.S. in electrical engineering, is the founder of two technology companies, CecilRep and FIX Flyer.

The Farrington Award is named for Gregory C. Farrington, who stepped down as Lehigh president last year and recently accepted the position of executive director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The awards ceremony was hosted by the Southside Bethlehem KIZ and the Lehigh University Entrepreneurs Network, which includes Lehigh faculty and local businesses.

Also recognized at the event were:

· Curtis MacDonald, who earned a B.S. in integrated business and engineering (IBE) from Lehigh in 2005, received the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award. MacDonald is founder and chief technical officer of hField Technologies Inc. The Bethlehem-based company makes and sells Wi-Fire, an adapter that boosts a wireless signal range.

· William Van Geertruyden, who earned a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Lehigh in 2004, received the Local Start-Up Company of the Year Award. Van Geertruyden is founder and general manager of EMV Technologies, LLC, a Bethlehem-based company that focuses on material forming and processing technologies. The company recently won a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop new membranes for kidney dialysis.

The KIZ program also announced monetary prizes for the six winners of Lehigh’s Thalheimer 2007 Student Entrepreneurs Competition. The students and their project names are:

· Michael McCreary ‘07, a marketing major, won Grand Prize and a check for $3,000 for a project titled Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.

· Brian Holder ’08, a double major in mathematics and finance, won First Prize for and $2,500 FuelCap.

· Matt Kenig ’10, a computer science and business (CSB) major, and David Gerlach ’10, a computer engineering major, won Second Prize and $1,500 for Gigamax.

· Andreas Uriarte ’09, a business management major; Manan Shah ’08, who majors in accounting and finance; and Brian Paul ’09, a mechanical engineering major, won Third Prize and $1,000 for Opensole Shoes.

· David Petrillo, Cameron Copeland and Brittany Jaswell, all juniors majoring in integrated business and engineering (IBE), won Honorable Mention and $500 for Contour Systems.

· Prasun Chatterjee, a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering, won Honorable Mention and $500 for Rapid Real-Time Sensing of Dissolved Heavy Metals.

The students are part of Lehigh’s IBE, IPD (integrated product development), and entrepreneurship programs, in which engineering, business and arts students work for one year in teams, either with industry partners or in their own start-ups, to design, make and market new products.

The entrepreneurs competition is endowed by Joan F. and John M. Thalheimer. John Thalheimer graduated from Lehigh in 1955. The Thalheimers’ endowment also supports entrepreneurial ventures program in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics.

The KIZ program was established by the state in 2004 to promote job growth by supporting community-university partnerships and by creating enterprise zones around universities. The Southside Bethlehem KIZ, which receives funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, was one of the first KIZ sites to be approved and is one of 16 in the state.

--Kurt Pfitzer