College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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V. Dale Cozad Awards Presented to MBA Students


By Lynnell J. Lacy

Photo: Award Winners

Photo: Award Winners

(Click for full-size image)

Conrad Tucker’s ('09 MBA) startup company, CentriOpt, placed first runner-up in the Commercial Venture Division of the V. Dale Cozad New Venture Competition with its Aerodynamic Particle Separator, an air filtration system that is most efficient at 10 microns—smaller than a grain of sand. Tucker said the product could be used residentially, with HVAC systems, or installed in homes or businesses as a pre-cleaner, removing heavy particles from the air.

This requires less maintenance and cost than conventional filtration systems. Tucker’s close friend Doug Barker, an engineering student, brought the product idea to him for feasibility determination. Barker’s professor, Yuanhui Zhang, in the agricultural and bioengineering department, holds the patent for the Aerodynamic Particle Separator. Together, with the help of David Lins in the Department of Finance, the team was able to validate financial feasibility. Mary Miller, associate dean in the College of Business, was instrumental in helping Tucker make key contacts, including an attorney experienced in working with startup companies. Her assistance was critical to the overall success of the team’s strategic plan.

The competition had two components: an elevator speech and a presentation to investors. Tucker’s team took the prize for the best elevator speech, along with their first runner-up placement in the presentation portion.

Cleanliness is key for Joe Bradley ('04 MBA) and his colleagues. His effort, The Clean Home Company, was second runner-up in the Social Venture Division. Bradley worked with Angela Bradley and Gwen Joyner to present their child safety product, the Sequence Timer with Animation. Bradley said his idea was prompted after reading a study conducted by a school in Michigan that implemented a hand washing policy that resulted in a 25-30% reduction in student absenteeism. The Clean Home Company aims to use their product to encourage hand washing in children, minimizing the spread of germs.

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