Erie Hack 2021: Meet Our Semifinalists!

November 2, 2021

This year, our Erie Hack Quarterfinals took place in the form of four virtual events across our participating communities in Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toledo. While things look a bit different this year - pitching and judging continue to take place over Zoom rather than in-person - the innovations are as impressive as ever!

A total of 12 teams consisting of some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, students, retirees, and creative thinkers across regions will move on to compete at Semifinals on November 4. Keep reading for a sneak peek at what’s in store for this next round of Erie Hacking!


Team: Life Magnetics
Team Members: Kevin Hagedorn, Kayla Wells
Innovation: RNA shipping, storage, and manufacturing process based on a laser-generated carbon to enhance remote testing for RNA analytes and improve synthetic RNA manufacturing.

Team: Stark Drones
Team Members: Andrew Nassief
Innovation: One of the world's most complex acoustics networks and sensory deployment methods in order to monitor and clean up lake water.


Team: RNA Power
Team Members: John Higley, Marité Ball, Gary Andersen, Erika Schwarz Taylor
Innovation: Novel RNA technologies to capture and preserve genetic materials of live organisms in aquatic systems so they can be analyzed to detect toxicity levels earlier than legacy technologies.

Team: Agri-Tech Ohio
Team Members: Joe James, Jomin Thomas
Innovation: Using a patented Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production (CRBBP) process to plant special bio-crops to cost-effectively capture large amounts of CO2 and  remediate air, soil, and water, ultimately contributing to the circular economy by creating bio-products from the harvested material.  

Team: Island Hoppers
Team Members: Mike Minnick
Innovation: Plantable boat bumper islands for native aquatic plants that will provide environments for animals above and below the water line to colonize.

Team: Algae Busters
Team Members: Steve Ostanek, Jeremy Timmons, Tony Fricke, Becky Rice, Karen Ostanek
Innovation: Utilizing precisely controlled electrical pulses to rupture organic cells and accelerate the biological process in manure lagoons, resulting in a more effective utilization of manure and allowing for increased application rates without increased phosphorus application and a reduction in commercial fertilizer application.


Team: Blue Lion Labs
Team Members: Jason Deglint, Katie Thomas, Hamid Aghamohammadi, Mahla Poudineh
Innovation: Using a microfluidic chip for toxin detection.

Team Members: Varun Kasaraneni, Jade Clinton, Erek Iwanenko, Colton Rashilla, Kyle Goodman
Innovation: A free-floating, solar powered device capable of separating and removing microplastics from lake water with minimal impact to aquatic life to be used at the coast, marinas, and in the lake.

Team: Let's Float Some Sensors on the Lake
Team Members: George Hampton, Mahdi Amrollahi Biouki, Sai Prasanna Polagani
Innovation: A small floating sensor that has cellular data connectivity, GPS, and is solar powered with a battery.

Team: Penn State Environmental Systems
Team Members: Riley Connors, Sourav Sripathi, Acxell Marmol, Madhav Patel, Mitchell Corsi
Innovation: Methodology to remove either nitrates and phosphates or heavy metal pollutants from bodies of water to better understand the adsorption process and how these products can be reused.


Team: Curbing Sediment
Team Members: Halina Steiner, Ryan Winston, Alec Grimm
Innovation: Redesign our curb, gutter, and apron systems to perform as a magnet, to bring about small scale changes of design standards that will have regional impacts and communicate relationships that exist between our cities and their environments.

Team: Water Warriors
Team Members: John Gradek, Steve Chamberland, Bob Sopko
Innovation: Poseidon pellets that absorb phosphorus and ammonia from water upon contact and can be used as a slow-release fertilizer, returning the valuable nutrients back to the land.

Semifinals will be hosted virtually by TechTown Detroit on Thursday, November 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Register today!

From there, finalists will move on to compete in Cleveland on November 18 and this year’s winning pitch will receive $30,000 - along with support services and mentorship - to bring their idea to life and help conserve our Great Lake!

Image Source: Ohio Sea Grant.

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