May 05, 2006

Start-up company run by Case students is big winner at first annual $100k Innovation Challenge @Case business plan competition

Game Communications LLC, founded by Case School of Engineering students, wins $75,000 Prize

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Case Western Reserve University came up the big winner in the first annual "$100k Innovation Challenge @Case."

Game Communications LLC, a company founded and run by David Grampa, a third-year student in the Case School of Engineering; and former CSE student Spencer Fry, won $75,000. Game Communications is developing voice communications software and voice communication services to the professional eSports and amateur computer game player markets.

The remaining $25,000 went to Avanti Metal Company, founded and operated by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Avanti has developed a method for selling titanium products at a fraction of their current price while creating one percent of the hazardous waste and pollution generated by current methods of production.

The competition was co-sponsored by the Weatherhead School and The Institute for Management and Engineering (TiME), a joint venture of the Case School of Engineering and the Weatherhead School.

Fry and Grampa came up with the idea for Game Communications as first-year students in CSE computer science class. Fry, now a senior, later transferred to Yale University. "We're very, very happy to receive this funding, and grateful to the organizers of the competition," said Fry. He added that the prize money would be reinvested in the business, mostly to hire additional software engineers.

The portion of the prize money contributed by TiME, $75,000, was sponsored by the Joseph P. and Nancy Keithley Foundation and the National Science Foundation and was earmarked for a student- or company-generated plan from Northeast Ohio. The remaining $25,000, from the Weatherhead School, was designated for a student plan from anywhere in the country.

The $100K innovation challenge is organized by the Weatherhead School's Entrepreneurship Club. It is one of the few business plan competitions in the country organized and run entirely by students.

"We were extremely impressed with the quality of the competition entries we received," said Brady Mullin, president of the Entrepreneurship Club and a second-year MBA student. "It is obvious that there a great many creative ideas out there for new businesses. Hopefully, competitions such as ours will provide the financing they need to turn those plans into reality."

Mullin said the competition initially received 120 entries from all over the country. Those were winnowed to 20 semifinalists and then to seven finalists.

The Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management is an international center of management scholarship, committed to preparing and enhancing organizational leadership. The Weatherhead School is dedicated to making discoveries of enduring consequence, developing innovative educational programs, fostering strategic partnerships with students and organizations, and providing services to multiple communities. (www.weatherhead.case.edu)

The Institute for Management and Engineering (TiME) brings together the resources of the Case School of Engineering and Weatherhead School of Management to help students and technology-based companies learn how to integrate engineering and management to achieve superior organizational performance. TiME's mission is to foster the integration of these disciplines through academic programs, such as the Master of Engineering and Management (MEM) program, experiential learning opportunities and industry interface.

For more information: Jeff Bendix 216-368-6070.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, May 5, 2006 08:33 AM | News Topics: Case School of Engineering, Weatherhead School of Management

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