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Startup is a winner

'Green insulation' development tops Tech Out competition

Sunday News Correspondent

September 28. 2013 1:48AM
UltraCell CEO Jonathan Strimling (right) and VP Dan Thompson happily accept the $50,000 first prize award in this year's Tech Out Competition for New Hampshire startups. (BARBARA TAORMINA/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA - UltraCell Insulation, a new company that makes "green insulation" from recycled cardboard, took home $50,000 and plenty of bragging rights as the winner of Tech Out 2013, New Hampshire's biggest competition for tech-based startups.

Organized this year by the New Hampshire High Tech Council and the abi Innovation Hub, the annual Tech Out contest showcases new ideas, products and services developed by some of the state's most savvy tech pioneers. Supported by a crowd of New Hampshire's major players in the advanced tech and financial industries, Tech Out also shows off the strength of the state's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

On Thursday night in Nashua, six semi-finalists presented four-minute pitches about their companies to a crowd of professionals, students and fellow innovators and entrepreneurs.

In addition to UltraCell, five other finalists competed.

-- Applykit developed an online platform to manage and streamline the grueling process of filling out college applications.

-- Developers of Blok Box presented a new remote controlled device that can disable equipment that was designed for the leasing industry to deal with clients who don't pay their monthly bills.

-- Craig Litherland of CranioVation pitched a new plastic clip for patients with brain aneurysms because the traditional metal clips distort images from MRI's and CT scans.

-- A group of Boston College graduates touted their company, streakmedia, which aggregates and delivers online news and information to targeted college audiences.

-- Kenetic, a Newmarket-based startup, presented an industrial resurfacing technology that uses ultra-high speed droplets of water to blast corrosion off of metal, concrete and asphalt.

CEO of abi Innovation Hub Jamie Coughlin, who helped emcee the event, called Tech Out a "celebration of entrepreneurship."

"We don't do ballrooms, and we don't do chicken dinners. We do entrepreneurs," Coughlin said. "Getting these people found and funded is why we're here."

The Tech Out competition is open to companies that have been up and running for less than three years. To qualify, companies must have less than $250,000 in the bank and less than $250,000 in revenues.

A group of 20 anonymous investors have committed to putting up the prize money for Tech Out for five years. A panel of judges that Coughlin described as all from New Hampshire and all with plenty of "street cred" awarded first prize to UltraCell and the $30,000 second prize to Kenetic.

But Tech Out organizers let the audience choose the winner of the $20,000 third-place award. The crowd voted on electronic key pads and picked CranioVision, which plans to use the prize money to develop and build a prototypes of the new device.

Matt Cookson, executive director of the NH High tech Council, said Tech Out is an opportunity for entrepreneurs with plans and products that have the potential to be game changers in various industries.

"We expect to see great things from all six of the finalists, and we hope they will choose to grow their companies in New Hampshire," he said.

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