Campus News

Awesome Touch Places in BIG Idea Competition

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2011) - A company started by University of Kentucky graduates has been named first runner-up in the Business Innovation & Growth Center at Kentucky Highlands. Awesome Touch of Lexington placed for its proprietary opitical touch-screen technology that enables users to interact with large, life-size displays.

Awesome Touch started as an undergraduate engineering design project at UK by developing applications and novel hardware for large-format touch screens.The company now focuses on delivering intuitive software for giant touch screens in public places – specializing in visitor maps, education and retail shopping. It will receive $5,000 and six months free rent in semi-private work space.

The overall winner of the competition was IVEN LCC, a Louisville-based health care-technology company that has developed a dental tool used in root canals that will save time and lower risk for this procedure. Second runner up was Old Kentucky Logs of Corbin, which manufactures artificial logs that have an antique, hand-hewn look but are made of concrete using molds of actual 150- year-old logs.

"Kentucky must invest in companies such as these – ones that are using innovative technologies and ideas to create jobs and grow our economy," said Jim Carroll, director of the Business Innovation & Growth Center. "Through the business idea competition and our business accelerator, Kentucky Highlands is helping entrepreneurs turn those ideas into economic engines and calling attention to the fact we do have homegrown entrepreneurs right here in Kentucky. We just need to give them the tools they need to succeed and encourage more entrepreneurs to take that step."

The winning companies presented their BIG Idea in person to a panel of judges, which reviewed their business model, business plan and financial projections. This was the final phase of the competition. Earlier phases required a one-page business summary and three- to six-page business plan synopsis. Total awards for the three phases were $30,000 in cash prizes as well as free office space.

Eligible participants were entrepreneurs, new businesses or existing businesses (with 20 or fewer employees) that can demonstrate they have an idea to create additional job opportunities in Kentucky.

Other competition supporters are the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Young Professionals of Eastern Kentucky, SCORE, the U.S. Small Business Administration, The Silicon Hollow Association, Lexington Venture Club, Eastern Region Innovation & Commercialization Center, The Center for Rural Development, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development, Kentucky Small Business Development Centers and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, founded in 1968 to stimulate economic growth in nine counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, now serves 22 counties in the region and has created more than 10,000 jobs.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jenny Wells, (859) 257-1754 ext. 254,