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BCW Celebrates Innovators at WIN Showcase

Innovators – local, national and international – gathered on Tuesday for a unique and highly informational program at The Business Council of Westchester’s Westchester Innovation Network (WIN) Showcase where four innovators were awarded $25,000 in cash grants.

“Westchester County’s future will be determined by new ideas and technologies,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, the BCW’s President and CEO speaking at the event held November 29th at the Westchester Marriott. “We established WIN to attract innovators to our county, where we hope they will prosper and grow, and to inspire innovation within our local ecosystem as well. The four innovation grant winners are exciting companies developing products and services with immense potential to benefit our society.”

The winners were:

  • $10,000: CatchU, which is testing a fall-propensity app with staff at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • $5,000: ConConnect for its reentry work with the formerly incarcerated and the Yonkers Housing Authority.
  • $5,000: Last20 for its recycled-plastic-into-pavement testing with Regeneron and the Yonkers Housing Authority.
  • $5,000: ShelterZoom for its smart document testing with Dorf & Nelson and Fullerton Beck.

The Showcase highlighted the results of WIN’s Innovation Match Program, which attracted innovative companies to Westchester and paired them with local companies to test their products and services in real-world settings. The program’s continuing goal is to provide the local host companies with an opportunity to understand innovation within their industries and to provide valuable feedback to innovators who need to pilot or beta test in a prospective customer setting.

Dr. Jeanette Mahoney, CatchU’s Founder, called her participation in WIN “amazing.”

“It’s been remarkable in establishing network connections,” said Mahoney. “We’re beginning to see patients now who are in our randomized control trial, and we’ve been invited to a few different talks, so the connections are seemingly never-ending.”

ConConnect Founder Andre Peart said his work with the Yonkers Housing Authority yielded important results. “It was fantastic in several ways as far as showing us different projects that we can do and how we can collaborate with other cities,” said Peart. “It also gave us a lot of impact that we can do within low-income and municipal housing with helping formerly incarcerated people get jobs and services.”

ShelterZoom founder Chao Cheng-Shorland said her participation in the WIN program exposed her smart-document company to many new potential clients. “What is significant is WIN helped us establish a legal vertical,” said Cheng-Shorland about her smart-document testing with local law firms. “We explored the use of our product, the value proposition, and the user experience.”

Last20 founder Lauren Barnes said her pilot test of recycled-plastic-infused pavement with Regeneron will begin in the spring. “This whole program has allowed us to make our goals come to life, so we’re really grateful for that,” said Barnes.

The BCW also gave the Yonkers Housing Authority a certificate of recognition for working with several WIN innovators. “My father, a successful teacher, real estate professional, and entrepreneur, told me to ‘always look for the win-win’ in any deal. The entrepreneurs win, and partnerships like Yonkers Housing Authority and Westchester Innovation Network, create the environment for the residents of Yonkers and Westchester County to win,” said Wilson Kimball, president and CEO of the Yonkers Housing Authority.

The Innovation Match Program is one of WIN’s multidimensional approaches to transforming the county into a center for new ideas and businesses. The WIN program’s two other components are:

  • The City Labs Project, which is a program that spotlights a host community and teams that municipality with individuals focused on identifying projects to assist in delivering immediate economic benefit to that community and its residents through innovation.
  • The WIN Implementation Guide, which will provide information to assist with the policies and infrastructure of the county to better attract and retain innovators, including funding, zoning, job training, incentives, and more.

Additional news about the WIN program is posted on the BCW’s website.

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