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School of Engineering

Engineers win at Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition

Monday, April 9, 2018
The annual competition, put on by Tufts Gordon Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (ELS) Program, celebrates innovation in business.
The team behind ZwitterCo poses with a large check.

Tufts Gordon Institute brought alumni, students, faculty, and community members together for the annual $100k New Ventures Competition. This year, School of Engineering students and alumni were members of a number of winning teams in the three competition tracks: General-High-Tech, Social Impact, and MedTech & Life Science.

In the General & High-Tech category, ZwitterCo, a system of nanofiltration membranes designed to improve produced water recycling in the oil and gas industry, tied for first place. Their system is cheaper and more effective than many other technologies in the same field. The team behind ZwitterCo is made up of one civil engineering alumnus, Harshit Agrawal, and three students in the M.S. in Innovation & Management program at Tufts Gordon Institute: Chen Chen, Aditi Deorukhakar, and Alex Rappaport, who also completed a B.S. in environmental engineering in 2017. ZwitterCo's technology is based on research from Assistant Professor Ayse Asatekin's chemical and biological engineering lab.

The winner in the Social Impact category was Apollo Agriculture, a company founded by Earl St Sauver, E13, along with Elizabeth Masters, A13 and Eli Pollack. Apollo Agriculture works with satellite imagery and machine learning to help smallholder farmers in a financially sustainable way.

Cathbuddy, a portable handheld UV-C catheter sterilizer, took the first-place spot in the MedTech & Life Sciences track. Cathbuddy was pitched by Brian Wee, a M.S. student in mechanical engineering, and his teammate Souvik Paul. The team sees Cathbuddy as a product that can help people who use catheters to regain agency and mobility in a sustainable way.

The team behind VASERA Male Contraceptives received the Stephen and Geraldine Ricci Interdisciplinary Prize, given to student teams that best demonstrate interdisciplinary design and entrepreneurial spirit. The team of seniors—Sophia Atik and Elizabeth Bender of biomedical engineering, and Kelsey-Claire Gallagher and Caitlyn Leo of chemical and biological engineering—presented their pitch for an injectable silk-based hydrogel technology that provides a user with effective contraception for one year. The team also won second place in the MedTech & Life Sciences category.