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Zahn Center Awards Give Entrepreneurs an Edge

Five teams won awards of $7,000 each to finance their startups.
Students examining a 3-D printer at an exhibit following the Zahn Center Challenge.  Photo: Whitney Mullen
Students examining a 3-D printer at an exhibit following the Zahn Center Challenge. Photo: Whitney Mullen

San Diego State’s Zahn Innovation Center last week awarded $50,000 to winners of the 2nd Annual Zahn Challenge.

The challenge was open to SDSU students, faculty and staff with an idea for a commercial or social enterprise or a project with social impact. The cash awards were made possible through the generosity of Richard and Lynda Kerr and the Kerr Family Foundation, as well as the Moxey Foundation.

All winners were admitted as team participants to the Zahn Center incubator, where they will receive guidance and mentoring to advance their projects.

Teams accepted into the Zahn Innovation Center have about 24 months to get their companies off the ground. There are frequent progress reviews and milestones to achieve as the projects develop.

First place winners

First place teams, which will receive $7,000 each, are:

Re-inflate  
A social enterprise aimed at impacting poverty by selling a re-inflatable mattress and employing the homeless in the process

Balance Tracking Systems
A commercial enterprise with an affordable and objective balance assessment tool to measure body sway and help detect concussions

Impaktiv
A commercial enterprise that has developed the world’s thinnest portable battery charger to fit most wallets, pockets or change purses

The Threshers
A social enterprise whose founders developed a machine enabling rural villages to thresh teff—an ancient North African cereal grass—more cleanly and efficiently

Vena
A social enterprise offering a low cost, low energy and low maintenance solution for the developing world’s drinking water needs.

Five second place teams also won $3,000 each.

The 11 judges included leading San Diego entrepreneurs plus faculty and staff from the colleges of Engineering and Business Administration.

Economic stimulus

Created with a gift from entrepreneur Irwin Zahn and expanded with a second gift from the Moxie Foundation, the Zahn Innovation Center allows SDSU teams to take ideas and move them toward commercialization. The center cultivates entrepreneurs while creating jobs and economic stimulus for the San Diego region.

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