The Judges Have Spoken: Meet our Startup Creativity Challenge Runners-Up

Startup Creativty Challenge

Our judges loved the innovative tech from these five startups

We all know that Ohio is home to some of the most ingenious, innovative and creative startups in the country, but our first TechOhio Startup Creativity Challenge gave us a taste of the overwhelming amount of talent our state has to offer!

Dozens of startups from all over the state were nominated for the award in fields ranging from medical technology to FinTech, software to 3D printing. Companies with ten years of experience faced off against companies founded amid the 2020 pandemic, and all had equally impressive creative solutions.

Our amazing judges — all experts on the Ohio startup scene — took some time to look over the entries and have selected their favorites. We’ll keep you in suspense and unveil the first-ever winner of TechOhio’s Startup Creativity Challenge later this week. But until that announcement, here are five runners-up that our judges determined deserved some extra recognition:

Global Neighbor

Founded in 2015 in Xenia, Global Neighbor has developed a safe and efficient way of dealing with weeds. The company’s directed energy floral control technology uses short durations of high intensity, dual wavelength light to control weeds and make weed seeds non-viable. When applied to seeds, it changes their physiology, making them incapable of growing into a seed-producing plant. When applied to weeds, it can kill them.

Two of our judges put Global Neighbor into the top five of their rankings. They appreciated the company’s extremely modern solution to a longtime problem, as well as its eco-friendly approach.

“If they can pull off a commercial scale unit for farmers, this is game-changing,” said one judge. “They can reduce usage of harmful chemicals at scale, reduce input costs for farmers and bolster yields for organic farmers.”


Another Ohio company focused on a greener future, Echogen Power Systems has developed a grid scale energy storage solution that allows them to achieve an electric grid with 100% renewable energy. The Akron startup’s Pumped Thermal Energy Storage can store over 100 hours of energy at a price far more competitive than lithium-ion. PTES is environmentally safe and contains no hazardous material.

The system can be paired with wind, solar, biomass, nuclear or fossil fuel-generation units, solving a critical challenge facing the world as renewable energy continues to expand.

“Evolving our energy options while diminishing our carbon footprint and dependency on other countries is at a tipping point,” one judge said. “Having technology that can help bridge that gap will go a long way to addressing supply chain needs and lessening environmental impact.”


Emergency rooms worldwide struggle to accurately and efficiently identify cardiovascular disease in patients with chest pain and other symptoms, leading to billions of dollars in wasted testing and hospitalizations. Despite all that waste, hundreds of thousands of chest pain patients are incorrectly diagnosed in ERs every year.

To tackle this problem, Genetisis’s creative solution was to build a new medical imaging system from the ground up. Their creation eliminates unnecessary procedures and hospitalizations, and can be available 24/7 without the need for specialized staff and resources. Cardio Flux is a medical device harnessing the power of next-gen sensors and the cloud, the result of years of research and development and millions in investment. The device is a patient-centric and cost-effective solution for evaluating heart disease in the emergency room or outpatient screening and monitoring.

Our judges loved the important mission of the CardioFlux, with one even putting them at the top of their list. “What they have built from the ground-up is incredibly impressive,” one judge said.


PopCom is truly a startup for 2021.

The Columbus company develops the PopShop, the world’s smartest vending machine. Merging the best features of an online website with the benefits of a physical brick and mortar store, PopShop allows brands and retailers to capture data about customer behavior and preferences readily available via e-commerce storefronts but not in the physical retail store setting.

A record 12,200 retail stores closed in 2020 joining the thousands that closed in previous years even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Our judges appreciated PopCom’s forward-looking nature, bringing the best of both worlds to their products.

DASI Simulations

The second heart health-related startup to wow our judges, Columbus-based DASI Simulations is personalizing heart surgery using advanced computer modeling to predict risks of procedural complications during trans-catheter heart valve surgery. Their software provides physicians and surgeons with support from artificial intelligence and machine learning. By personalizing heart surgery, DASI eliminates options that would result in surgical complications, lowers surgery death rates and saves hospitals money.

The tech, developed at The Ohio State University, allows hospitals to upload patients’ CAT scans to DASI, which performs risk analysis for various complications with different devices based on advanced predictive simulation modeling. It currently assists physicians with trans-catheter aortic valve replacement and trans-catheter mitral valve replacement surgeries.

Our judges were unanimous in their admiration for Dasi — it was one of only two nominees (along with our winner) to find a place in each of our judges’ top 10 rankings.

Who will take home the title as the winner of our first Startup Creativity Challenge? Be sure to check back later this week, when we announce who our judges believe has the most creative solution of all!

And don’t forget to watch TechOhio’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for more info on our runners-up, winner and more!

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