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At a Glance: KLI ISA 2013 Finalists

Posted November 25, 2013 in Focus on Students, News

We are excited to share with you our 8 finalists for the 2013 KLI Innovative Start-Up Award!

Congratulations Inspired Origami, NexDrive, Phoenix, and Project Bridge for the commercial track, and American Cultural Education, CEELI, SHARE, and ZATTARO for the social track.  Read on to learn more about each finalist.


Inspired Origami (view their website)
Inspired Origami is a fashion and jewelry startup that has patented the unique use of the Japanese art of Origami. Founded by Lawrence Beall the firm looks to use 3D printing to roll out their production line, which was previously made by hand. The firm has also developed a new process that makes paper origami waterproof and highly durable. Their products have been featured in a photo-shoot by Teen Vogue and Lucky Magazine.

Project Bridge
Project Bridge was inspired by a large information gap in the amount of scholarship funds delivered to college students and the quantity of funds that prospective students believe to be available. The startup is a free online website that will allow students access to a database of financial aid resources tailed to their specific situation. Already Project Bridge has developed a database concerning $20 billion of financial aid. This is significantly more than the top three most-used scholarship databases, which cumulatively represent $7 billion of financial aid.

Phoenix looks to bring three separate technologies, Google Glass, a 3D treadmill, and motion sensing to create a complete virtual reality gaming experience using unique software. While two of these technologies have yet to become commercially available, Phoenix’s platform is based on developing the integration of these technologies, and make it easily accessible for developers.

NexDrive (view their website)
NexDrive looks to bring compressed natural gas solutions to the U.S. transportation industry. They want to bring compressed natural gas fueling systems into homes for a fraction of the costs of their rivals and also convert entire corporate fleets of vehicles into CNG/petroleum hybrids. NexDrive is already marketing a home system that can be installed in a normal garage and a conversion system to turn straight petroleum engines into CNG/petroleum hybrids.


SHARE (view their website)
SHARE’s mission is “to create a network of international healthcare organizations” and has begun to make progress in that direction by connecting under-supplied hospitals in Cameroon with hospitals in the United States.  To accomplish its goals, SHARE has partnered with established institutions. SHARE identifies hospitals that are in need on the ground, forms a customized list of necessary equipment, procures that equipment with the help of Project CURE, pays for it to be shipped, and then manages the equipment once it is on the ground in Cameroon.

CEELI is tackling rural poverty in Ecuador through education. The organization is currently focused solely on the community of Sibambe.  CEELI recognizes that this community is stuck in a poverty trap and hopes to break this by improving educational infrastructure, refurbishing the local school and offering after school programs.  CEELI has people on the ground working with the community of Sibambe and are uniquely situated to understand the community and involve it in their work.

American Cultural Education
American Cultural Education wants to ensure that international students going to American universities are able to integrate into their host university, addressing the social problems of these incoming students and ensuring that the benefits of student body diversity are fully realized. To this end they have developed a specific cultural curriculum that will be taught to motivated students in their home country beginning months before they arrive in the United States. They have found that orientation programs offered by universities are too little and too late to be effective. Furthermore, the start-up can offer advice regarding college selection to ensure that each student is most likely to select a college where he or she is most likely to succeed, rather than the college most highest ranked.

ZATTARO sells dress shoes that are hand made in the Bolivian highlands to American fashion retailers. ZATTARO’s social business strategy is to use a unique blend of llama and sheep wool to make their shoes and a durable weaving technique unique in the market, combined with its social mission to provide fair trade and education to the community in El Alto, Boliva.  Presently, the current benefit to the Bolivian workers is not just a reliable wage and disposable income:  for every pair of shoes sold a contribution is made to the children of the cobblers in El Alto, Bolivia to improve their education.