November 21, 2008

Clipius captures honors in statewide competition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Clipius Technologies Inc., a Carbondale-based company, brought home a major prize in a statewide entrepreneurial innovation competition this week. Clipius, a client of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, claimed the runner-up award and $10,000 prize in the early stage business category of the 2008 Innovate Illinois Competition.

“This win for a Southern Illinois-based company, Clipius Technologies, proves that high level, innovative businesses are alive and well and can thrive in a rural economy,” said Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development at SIUC. “The highly competitive nature of an event such as Innovate Illinois makes this a source of pride for both the University and the region.”

More than 130 companies entered the competition, with 32 chosen to present in Chicago Sept. 26. From there, Clipius was one of a dozen companies, half early stage and half later-stage businesses, advancing to the contest’s final stage on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Each of the finalists made a fast-paced 10-minute presentation about their company. Taking top honors and a $40,000 prize for early stage businesses was Harrison Custom Harmonicas of Chicago. Claiming the top award for a later-stage business was CallPod, Inc., of Chicago, while Kim Laboratories of Champaign took the later-stage runner-up award.

The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, a non-profit affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, administered the competition in conjunction with the other Entrepreneurship Centers throughout the state. The prize money is to assist with commercialization of the products or services of the winning companies.

“We, at Clipius, are extremely happy and proud of our showing at the Innovate Illinois Competition,” said Ajay Mahajan, company president. “First and foremost, I would like to thank Emily Carter and Robyn Laur Russell from the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center for their help and support throughout the competition, as well as the role they play in fostering companies such as ours in the Southern Illinois region. A runners-up award amongst the many high-growth companies from the entire state is indeed a validation of our products, our team and our strategic plan to take our products to market. It is particularly gratifying for me to see that our model is very similar to some of the other finalists in the competition whereas they are also in some way associated with universities, e.g. Northwestern University and the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.”

Clipius’ signature product is an antimicrobial coating for implants such as spinal screws. The company is working on two unique coatings. One is a custom silica-based coating, while the other is a unique diamond-based coating.

Medtronic Sofamor Danek, a biomedical company based in Memphis, Tenn., has funded Clipius research and development work on its products. Reducing or eliminating infection is critically important in surgical procedures, so the industry seeks biomedical inventions such as those from Clipius. The company, which is involved with cutting-edge medical device and software product development, holds six patents, two copyrights and two licensed products. Two newer products are in the development phase.

Founders of Clipius ( include three doctors along with two with doctorates, all having SIU affiliations. The Clipius management team includes Mahajan, professor of mechanical engineering at SIUC; Dr. Sumeer Lal, a practicing South Carolina neurosurgeon; Dr. Brad Schwartz, associate professor of urology at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield; Tsuchin Philip Chu, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes at SIUC; and Dr. Jayant Nath, a practicing cardiologist in Kansas. Company officials say those SIUC connections have proven critical to the company’s early success.

“I believe we have the right opportunities, talent and resources in the region, especially those offered by SIUC, to encourage and further foster entrepreneurship in the region,” Mahajan said.

For more information about the SIUC Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center and the various services it provides, look online at or call 618/453-3805.