News: Chicago Connectory hosts Alphalab Gear Hardware Cup


Chicago Connectory hosts Alphalab Gear Hardware Cup

Infant death rates, athlete hydration and 3D printed food were three of the topics addressed at the Chicago Connectory for the Alphalab Gear Hardware Cup on Tuesday, March 3.

Six early-stage hardware startups pitched their ideas to judges, which came from companies such as TechStars, M25 and Pritzker Group Venture Capital, among others.  

Each of the startups had four minutes to pitch their concepts to judges and the audience before another four minutes for Q&A. Here is a summary for each group and its pitch:


BeeHex: This group manufactures machines for commercial kitchens to automate food personalization, including the utilization of a NASA-funded 3D food printer.


MicroEra Power: This group focuses on developing on-site power systems to create a renewable-intensive grid. MicroEra Power utilizes cloud-based predictive/adaptive controls, which monitor, control and optimize its systems.


Hintech Ag: Focusing on splintering corn stalks, the Decimator (this group’s first product) mitigates tire damage on farm equipment, as well as enhancing the decomposition of corn stalk “stubble.” This product helps alleviate issues in creating seed-to-soil contact in the crops after, assisting in the germination process.


Nobo: Hydration is essential when doing outdoor activities (such as running, playing sports, etc.), so Nobo has created a product that monitors hydration levels. It accomplishes this by sending different wavelengths of light into the body and measuring how much light is absorbed.


ihologramLAB: For companies that want to utilize realistic-images in their hardware products, ihologramLAB is an imaging solution provider, which provides total solutions for real imaging effects. It uses optical parts and a 2D contents conversion service for what it calls “reality reinforcement.”

Neopenda: As a for-profit healthcare startup, Neopenda is developing a product, which wirelessly monitors vital signs for newborns in overcrowded, understaffed health facilities. This product is being validated through clinical trials in Uganda.


In the end, Neopenda was the winner of the Chicago Hardware Cup and received a 3-month membership to the Chicago Connectory.

The Chicago Hardware Cup event was one of six in the U.S., with others taking place in the cities of Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington D.C., Austin and Los Angeles. The winners of each event will take part in the international finals on April 18 in Pittsburgh. This will feature finalists from countries such as Japan, South Korea, Israel and more.

The grand prize for the international event is $50,000.

In addition to the pitches, there were two startup “flash talks”, which were keynote discussions from the founders of startups Imagiroo (Lily Born) and SimpleSense (Eric Kanagy).

As two successful startups, each founder discussed his or her chronological journey toward success.

(Click here to read more about Imagiroo, and click here to read more about SimpleSense!)

Bess Goodfellow, an analyst at Hyde Park Angels who served as a judge for the event, said it was interesting to see the variety of startups that pitched.


“This was a great opportunity for me to learn about how the presented IoT solutions can impact different industries,” Bess said. “I’m always happy to support the local tech community, and this event was a great way to help these startups maximize their potential toward reaching success.”


Alphalab Gear Coordinator Leah Simoncelli says the Connectory environment complimented the goals of the event, fostering innovation and creating connections to build out the IoT ecosystem.

“My goal for this event is to have terrific networking and stimulate ideation, and the Connectory is in line with that vision,” Leah said. “This environment is welcoming to all members of the tech community, setting the perfect stage for these startups to dream big and receive the proper support to make their dreams a reality.”

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