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Good Ideas Get a Nudge Toward Good Products

SMG competition rewards innovative technology


Show is better than tell: entrepreneur Fredrik Fjellsaa demonstrates his new bike handlebar grips. Photo by Zander White

Fredrik Fjellsaa believes bikers’ wrists shouldn’t have to work so hard. Specifically, he thinks, they shouldn’t have to bend in unnatural ways every time a bike sways sideways, as they do with conventional immobile handlebar grips.

Fjellsaa wondered how much less stressful that swaying would be if the grips could rotate. Thus was invented Twister Grips, a good idea that could only become a money-making reality with a good deal of help, financial and otherwise.

As it turns out, Fjellsaa got both in April when he won second place and $5,000 in this year’s New Venture Competition, run by the School of Management’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC).

First-place honors and $7,500 went to RayVio Technologies, a BU student project headed by Yitao Liao (ENG’11) that has developed an ultraviolet (UV), light-emitting diode technology for use in municipal water purification plants. Liao says current UV lights in municipal systems are less efficient and contain environmentally hazardous mercury. If he and his collaborators can market their technology, he says, the benefits will include enabling “portable water disinfection for third-world countries where centralized water treatment facilities are not available.”

ACCEasy, headed by Katsiaryna Akhlopkava (GSM’11), won third place and $1,000 for an accounting software package it developed for Russian businesses.

In addition to money, winners of the annual 11-year-old contest, which helps BU students and young alumni turn business ideas into a business plan, get business-related legal services, presentation coaching, and credits toward rental properties.

Fjellsaa, who pedaled his own Twister Grip–equipped bike into the competition at SMG, earned BU’s Graduate Diploma in Global Entrepreneurship, a four-month study program in the School of Management’s Executive Leadership Center.

“Both the ITEC competition and the graduate diploma in entrepreneurial management have been extremely useful to get me in touch with the right people,” Fjellsaa says. “The next step is to raise more money, finish a production prototype, obtain strategic partnerships, and perform initial marketing. The $5,000 I won will support these activities and enables a quicker start.”

The competition was judged by four leaders from legal and investment firms: Gordan Penman, of Brown Rudnick in Boston; Charles Lax, of GrandBanks Capital in Wellesley, Mass.; Lou Volpe, of Kodiak Venture Partners in Waltham, Mass.; and Eugene Hill, of SV Life Sciences in San Francisco.

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.


One Comment on Good Ideas Get a Nudge Toward Good Products

  • Anonymous on 05.17.2011 at 10:37 pm

    BU should tap entrepreneurs outside of SMG

    SMG students are expected to be entrepreneurs. In fact, they may be at a disadvantage to truly innovate because all they know how to do is “business.” What about looking to fields outside of business for innovation. I can tell you that a med student or engineer probably has more innovative muster than a typical business student.

    As a med student myself, it’s too bad that this is the second time that I am finding out about a business competition after the competition has occurred. BU should do a better job being cross-disciplinary in its solicitation of business ideas. I guess that’s why we are not a Stanford or a harvard

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