Students pitch Innovation at HCC IDEAS Competition

Jul 13, 2021

On May 20, the Houston Community College Office of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, the HCC Foundation, Department of Speech & Communications, and the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences hosted the IDEAS Pitch Virtual Competition. The IDEAS@HCC Pitch competition allowed students to share their creative ideas and social innovations. The competition was designed to explore innovative approaches to answering pressing societal needs and to spark an atmosphere of social dialogue and community.

The judging criteria for the entries were social impact, economic impact, environmental impact, completeness of the pitch, and originality. One first place winner and two second and third place winners received monetary awards totaling $3,500 for college tuition and school supplies. Other non-monetary prizes included in-kind credits for Amazon Web Services (AWS) for all 16 student finalist teams. Those teams also qualified for $1,000 in AWS credits from AWS University.

The first-place winner was Elanie Vo, a student from Dulles High School in Fort Bend ISD. She was awarded $1,500 for her Industrifilm pitch. Industrifilm is a step up from traditional solar panels that is adhesive, transparent film consisting of two layers, UV protectant and solar cells, that collect and convert solar energy into eco-friendly electricity.

One of the $750 second place awards went to HCC Engineering student Cyrus Abbasi for a Carbon Capture Catalyst System (CCCS). CCCS can produce methane for power production out of waste product, carbon dioxide. The second $750 award winner went to the team Student Power. This team included Juan Rodriguez, Emiliano Lovato, Marcos Ortiz, Danoush Mohasel, and Dhruv Saligram. They created an online platform connecting students to high-quality, one-on-one tutoring services. This platform allows high school students to earn community service hours by becoming tutors to younger students who need academic help.

The first $250 third place award winner went to Bio Bite, created by the five-member team of Enay Bhatnagar, Kushal Ambatipudi, Saahil Momin, Maria Masood, and Cherrene Framo. These students combined the needs of the environment and man’s best friend to create the ultimate dog toy that extends biodegradable standards and enhances puppy-teething skills, while generating fun for pets.

The other third place winners were Deborah Akran & Mariana Saldana, a two-member team of HCC Computer Science majors from Katy. The two created the Houston Almanac, a multi-lingual website and social media platform that supports minorities, by providing better access to career and job opportunity information.

"We congratulate our finalists and winners and will offer them mentoring, guidance, and support to help them turn their ideas into small businesses," said Ravi Brahmbhatt, HCC Director of Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We’re also excited about the Fall semester competition that will be sponsored by McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurism. Plus, BMC Software is donating $2,350 for Student Hackathons, which are training sessions for the competition.”

Keynote speakers for the competition were past participants Kanisha Ffriend and Luisa Nadarajah. This semester’s judges were Dr. Maya Durnovo, chief entrepreneurial initiatives officer at HCC; David Regenbaum, entrepreneur-in-residence and board chairman, HCC Foundation; Suzette Brimmer, HCC dean of Consumer Arts and Science; Amy Henry, CPA and CEO of Eunike Ventures; Amy Tan, HCC dean of English and Communications; and Ned Mueller, HCC veteran entrepreneur-in-residence.

“I was delighted to see all the creative ideas, solutions and applications developed by our students. These students are our future leaders.” said Amy Henry.

“The HCC Foundation is pleased to support the IDEAS@HCC Pitch competition and foster excellence and creative thinking, while also encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in our students,” says David Regenbaum.

IDEAS@HCC Pitch is one of five entrepreneurial initiatives offered at HCC's Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program that assists students with resources, knowledge and skills necessary to test and launch their ideas. The Center leverages college and community resources to help students explore and share ideas, develop networks and community, build an entrepreneurial mindset, and learn digital and making skills.

For more information about the IDEAS@HCC Pitch Competition, visit or contact Ravi Brahmbhatt at or 713.718.5269.

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