September 26, 2008

Four firms among Innovate Illinois semi-finalists

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It’s on to the semi-finals today (Sept. 26) in Chicago for four businesses from southern and southeastern Illinois chosen by the Southern Illinois University Entrepreneurship Centers at Carbondale and Centralia as preliminary winners in the Innovate Illinois 2008 competition.

Southern region semi-finalists chosen by the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center at SIUC are Clipius Technologies, Inc (Clipius Spine) and Liquid Potions, LLC. Southeast region semi-finalists selected by the University Entrepreneurship Center at Centralia are Comp Cost Solutions Cooperative Marketing Co. LLC and Kevin W. McClain Investigations Ltd.

Ajay Mahajan and Dr. Tsuchin Chu are the primary owners of Clipius Technologies and its spin-off subsidiary, Clipius Spine. The Carbondale company, with several physicians on board, focuses on intellectual property within the field of neurosurgical spinal implants and instrumentation.

Erik Cornett and Gerald Harsy, both registered pharmacists, created Liquid Potions, a Herrin business. The business concentrates on natural pharmaceuticals, in particular, a drink-based healthy product line and on their newest innovation, the BOOZER Hangover Remedy, a product designed to address a common social/economic problem in modern society.

Richard Kruckeberg and Patrick Grant founded Comp Cost Solutions Cooperative Marketing Co. in Mattoon. The company offers a web-based predictive “cost prevention” system enabling employers to predict future worker’s compensation insurance costs for one or multiple worksites around the globe. It utilizes a statistical analysis of an employee assessment tool linked to the body’s musculoskeletal system.

Kevin W. McClain Investigations, based in Central City/Centralia, is a multi-state professional investigative corporation licensed to operate in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The company offers a comprehensive identification package including digital photo, live scan fingerprints and optional DNA collection.

It’s the fourth year for the Innovate Illinois competition, a highly selective entrepreneurial contest encouraging innovative businesses with cash prize awards. The goal is to encourage and reward companies for implementing or planning innovative products, services or processes that already have or will have a lasting economic effect on the state, said Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade at SIUC. She and Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development at SIUC, are accompanying the winners to the semi-final competition. Carter will serve as a judge for the semi-final round of competition.

The contest features two categories with separate prizes for each: early stage, for companies with an idea for an innovative product, service or process; and later stage, for new companies that have recently created an innovative product, service or process. In either case, a potential lasting economic impact on the state is necessary. For the purposes of the program, innovation is the creation of a novel product, service or internal process solving a market problem or internal deficiency. Also, successful innovations must potentially foster economic growth through the generation of revenue and/or jobs.

Throughout the state, 16 entrepreneurship centers work with the State of Illinois and the Innovate Illinois program. Companies work with center staff and apply for the competition through the centers in their Opportunity Returns region. Each center chose one early stage and one later stage winner to advance to today’s semi-final event in Chicago. There, judges select 12 finalists to return to Chicago on Nov. 18. During that final competition, they’ll select from each competition stage a grand prizewinner claiming the $40,000 prize and a runner-up with a $10,000 cash prize.

Clipius Technologies and Comp Cost Solutions Cooperative Marketing Co. are competing in the early stage division while Liquid Potions and Kevin W. McClain Investigations are vying for the prizes in the later stage competition.

For more information about the Innovate Illinois program, look online at The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, a non-profit affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, manages the program. The mission of the Illinois entrepreneurship centers is assisting entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses as they build viable, sustainable, profitable enterprises.

For more information about the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center at SIUC, call 618/453-3805.