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Northwestern graduate Yuri Malina, co-founder at SwipeSense, and McCormick graduate Cary Hayner, co-founder at SiNode Systems, receive Chicago Innovation Awards in the up-and-comer category.

Northwestern graduate Yuri Malina, co-founder at SwipeSense, and McCormick graduate Cary Hayner, co-founder at SiNode Systems, receive Chicago Innovation Awards in the up-and-comer category.

Wildcat innovation

Startups from Kellogg and NU win big at the Chicago Innovation Awards

By Paul Dailing

11/1/2013 - SiNode Systems is heading back to NASDAQ.

The lithium-ion battery company, made up of graduates from Kellogg and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was one of 10 startups named Chicago Innovation Award winners in the up-and-comer category before a crowd of 1,500 people at Chicago's Harris Theater on Oct. 30.

“We are proud to be recognized as a top innovator in Chicago and the award will raise awareness on our company with potential partners, investors, and new employees,” said SiNode CEO Samir Mayekar ’13.

One of the prizes is getting to ring the bell at NASDAQ, which SiNode already did in August for winning a separate business plan competition held by Rice University.

“We look forward to being back in New York to celebrate entrepreneurship with our fellow award winners,” Mayekar said.

Awards season for SiNode

Since May, SiNode has won a slate of awards – and funding topping $1 million – from groups including the Department of Energy, the Kellogg Innovation Network, the Cleantech Open and the National College Inventor's and Innovators Alliance. The company is hoping for a 2015 launch of a new cell phone battery that would charge 10 times faster and run 10 times as long.

“When you find an organization that understands customer needs and matches technology to those needs, that’s really something special,” said Chicago Innovation Awards founder and long-time Kellogg professor Tom Kuczmarski.

While SiNode got its start in a NUvention course, another Chicago Innovation Awards up-and-comer also got its start in Wildcat purple.

SwipeSense, which creates data-driven personal hand sanitizing systems to keep healthcare workers from spreading disease, was formed in 2012 by Northwestern graduates Mert Iseri and Yuri Malina. The group is currently one of the three finalists in the Wall Street Journal’s “Startup of the Year” competition, a four-month-long online reality show documentary looking for top innovators. The winner will be named Nov. 4.

Two other Kellogg-connected startups were named up-and-comers. SimpleRelevance, a Chicago-based marketing optimization company that uses big data to help companies target their clients, was founded and is headed by CEO Erik Severinghaus '12.

Juan Hernandez '12 is CFO at up-and-comer Everpurse, which makes purses that charge any cell phone popped inside.

In addition to ringing the bell at NASDAQ, all the Chicago Innovation Awards winners will get meetings with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, will receive a profile in Crain’s Chicago Business and will receive three days of innovation training at the Disney Institute in Orlando, with tuition and accommodations included.