UConn’s CCEI, Alumni, and Affiliates Honored with 2020 CT Entrepreneur Awards

Students at UConn's Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship
UConn's Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has been lauded in an awards ceremony. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

UConn’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, or CCEI, was a big winner in this year’s Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards, taking home top honors with recognition as the 2020 Community Promoter of the Year.

Held annually since 2017, the Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards are a product of the Connecticut Entrepreneur Event Organizers consortium, an all-volunteer cooperative effort of people and organizations that host and facilitate entrepreneur-facing events in Connecticut.

This year’s awards, held virtually for the first time, honored 24 winners and 68 runners-up – 15 categories featured winners selected through community voting, while nine winners – including CCEI – were selected by panels of more than two dozen expert judges from outside of Connecticut who evaluated the finalists.

The Community Promoter of the Year Award recognizes the Connecticut entrepreneurial ecosystem organization that aims to empower and build its community by assuring that its constituents get nominated and recognized first.

Founded in 2007, CCEI offers programs that support new venture development, provides courses that engage students in innovation and new technologies, and connects the University with the greater entrepreneurial ecosystem within the state of Connecticut.

“We are so honored to have been recognized as Community Promoter of the year at the Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards,” CCEI Director Jennifer Murphy says. “The entrepreneurial ecosystem both at UConn and across the state has been vital to the success of our student and faculty led startups. This network of entrepreneurs, industry experts, and corporate partners – many of which are proud UConn alumni – help us to provide mentorship, next step resources, and experiential learning opportunities. We are grateful to be a part of a larger community in Connecticut that collaborates and celebrates our successes together.”

“We are immensely proud of CCEI and of all of our student, faculty, staff and alumni entrepreneurs who have been recognized this year,” says UConn President Thomas Katsouleas. “The programs and resources that CCEI offers drive creativity and innovation and open doors to future success, and we’ve seen their work has the power to transform students’ lives. Universities are research drivers, discovery institutes, and innovation engines, and UConn and the state of Connecticut are well-served in these critical functions by the dedicated team at CCEI.”

In addition to CCEI, UConn-affiliated judged winners and runners-up included:

  • Winner, Entrepreneur of the Year: Scalable Venture – Armin Rad ’19 PhD and Leila Daneshmandi ’20 PhD, Encapsulate
  • Winner, Entrepreneur of the Year: Main Street – Daniel Flynn ’14 (CLAS), DRF Consulting, Hamden
  • Honorable Mention, Entrepreneur of the Year: Main Street – Carol Dannhauser ’82 (CLAS), Fairfield County Writers’ Studio
  • Honorable Mention, Entrepreneur of the Year: Student – Brittany Molkenthin ’17 (NURS), Lactation Innovations
  • Honorable Mention, Venture of the Year: Pre-Revenue – Encapsulate (Armin Rad ’19 PhD and Leila Daneshmandi ’20 PhD)
  • Honorable Mention, Venture of the Year: Pre-Revenue – Therapeutic Bandage Products (Professor Lawrence Silbart, UConn Department of Allied Health Sciences)
  • Honorable Mention, Venture of the Year: Pre-Revenue – Nami Therapeutics (Professor Xiuling Lu, UConn School of Pharmacy)
  • Honorable Mention, Community Builder of the Year – Brenda Lewis ’81 MBA, Transactions Marketing Inc.
  • Honorable Mention, Community Promoter of the Year – Transactions Marketing Inc., Stamford (Brenda Lewis ’81 MBA)

In the community selected categories, UConn-affiliated winners and runners-up included:

  • Honorable Mention, Entrepreneur: Student – Brittany Molkenthin ’17 (NURS), Lactation Innovations
  • Honorable Mention, Venture: Pre-Revenue – Savkar Inc., Farminton (Professor Amit Savkar, UConn Department of Mathematics)
  • Honorable Mention, Program – Digital HealthCT (MedTech accelerator is a partnership with Hartford Healthcare, UConn School of Business, and Trinity College)
  • Honorable Mention, Education – Julia Yakovich, UConn Director of Service Learning

The 2020 Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards were presented on Monday, July 20, in a virtual event described as “big, bold, and audacious” as it celebrated businesses, organizations, and individuals from communities throughout the state, pursuing a range of activities and business opportunities.

“The quality and quantity of the finalists this year reflects the incredible growth of the entrepreneurial community in Connecticut,” says Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards founder Bill Kenney. “Collectively, those selected as winners in their categories, those earning Honorable Mention, and all the finalists, have a strong impact on our state and its communities, and that’s good news for Connecticut. We look forward to hearing more about their progress in the coming years, and to the continued growth of entrepreneurship and economic independence in our state.”

For more information about the Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards, visit ctentrepreneurawards.com.