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Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship


The Konneker medal
The Konneker Medal. Credit: Kaitlin Owens/Ohio University.

The Ohio University Foundation established the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship to recognize current and former faculty members or students who have demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization and entrepreneurship. Up to three awards will be given each year.

The award is named for Wilfred Konneker, an Ohio University alumnus with a distinguished record in research and entrepreneurship. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1943 and his master's degree in physics and astronomy in 1947. He received a doctoral degree in nuclear physics from Washington University in 1950.

Konneker founded the Nuclear Consultants Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri, and either founded or co-founded six additional high-tech start-up companies. The alumnus was instrumental in the establishment of Ohio University's small business incubator, the Innovation Center, as well as the university biotechnology spin-off company Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc. He was one of the principle architects of the Cutler Scholars program. The research laboratories housing the Edison Biotechnology Institute at the Ridges were named in his honor to recognize his leadership and service. The Konneker Alumni Center also was named for the alumnus and his wife, Ann Lee. Konneker was a member of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees.

Nomination Process

Nominations for the medal may be submitted until Oct. 31, 2022.

Nominations should consist of a letter and an optional appendix of supporting documentation. Entries should address, and will be judged by the degree to which they establish, a record of demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization and entrepreneurship by the nominee. Submissions should be sent electronically to Joseph Shields, vice president for research and creative activity, at research@ohio.edu.

The selection committee, which is chaired by the vice president, will include the director of the Technology Transfer Office, one dean and two faculty members. The committee will make its selection by Dec. 1. Up to three awards may be given per year. The Konneker Medal will be presented to the 2021 recipients in April 2022.

2021 - Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder

After earning his accounting degree from OHIO, Snyder first went to work for Deloitte (formerly Touche Ross in Columbus). In 1991, he used his knowledge, experience and entrepreneurship in founding a startup in the healthcare world. He also served as the only employee and sole proprietor. Today, 21st Century HealthCare has 500 employees and manufactures 5 billion doses of health supplements each year. In recognition of its outstanding efforts, 21st Century HealthCare earned a top brand designation by U.S. News and World Report in 2020. The company also publishes The Connection 21, a newsletter that is filled with important information on manufacturing, events, non-profit and employee updates, and wellness tips. In addition, 21st Century HealthCare supports non-profit organizations such as the American Heart Association and Rady’s Children’s Hospital.

2020 - Amanda Epp

Epp, a 2007 recipient of a bachelor’s degree in health services administration, worked as the first outside hire at CoverMyMeds, a successful healthcare information technology company. Following the acquisition of CoverMyMeds by McKesson in 2017, Epp was a founding team member with ScriptDrop and the company’s first paid employee. She has since advanced from being vice president of pharmaceutical sales to president and CEO of ScriptDrop, which is on a rapid growth trajectory. During the pandemic, Epp has committed ScriptDrop to providing patient-centric medication access. 

Epp also is one of two co-founders of Go Get the World, a non-profit that embraces, encourages and empowers women who are working on their dreams. Epp had the vision of Go Get the World in high school and made it a reality in 2018, focusing on helping young women to achieve their goals. 

2020 - Lawrence Lynn

Lynn, D.O., is a former clinical faculty member of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, starting in 1988. During his time at OHIO, he was well-respected with his patients, students, interns and residents. He provided clinical mentorship and research opportunities for students. Lynn continues to support OHIO by presenting to students in the Heritage College and College of Health Sciences and Professions at the Dublin campus regarding his groundbreaking research on sepsis. 

Lynn is a prolific inventor of successful medical devices and patient monitoring systems, and has filed over 100 patents, with almost 80 issued in the United States. His discoveries in sepsis research led to the development of data systems that show a number of different patterns of sepsis, allowing for better health outcomes. His patented tool, PatientStormTracker, detects dynamic transitions in sepsis using device and data analytics. Lynn is founder and president of Lyntek Medical Technologies, Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, which is focused on developing new and improved medical technologies.

2020 - Alan Schaaf

Schaaf, a 2010 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, developed, founded and launched imgur.com in 2009 while still a student at OHIO, with support from the Ohio University Innovation Center. 

Imgur is an online image sharing platform and a community entertainment destination, now reaching 300 million people across the globe. The site ranks among the top 50 Internet properties in the United States and top 100 in the world. Schaaf has remained the founder and CEO of the company since the beginning. Imgur currently employs about 100 people, including many OHIO graduates. 

Imgur has received many accolades, including Best Bootstrapped Business by TechCrunch in 2012 and 2014, and winner of the Webby Award for Best Social Media. The platform achieved 900 billion image views in 2015 alone. 

Schaaf has also received many awards and accolades, including named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for four consecutive years (2013-2016) and to the San Francisco 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. Schaaf also was previously recognized with an OHIO Alumni Award, the Charles J. and Claire O. Ping Recent Graduate Award, in 2015.

2019 - Naishu Wang
Naishu Wang

Naishu Wang earned a doctoral degree in biological sciences from Ohio University in 1991, under the direction of Distinguished Professor Robert Hikida. She holds a medical degree from the Chongqing Medical University in China.

Dr. Wang founded Alfa Scientific Designs Inc. (ALFA) in 1996 and has grown the company to 96 employees to date. ALFA occupies a 40,000 square-foot research and manufacturing facility that is focused on the research and development of rapid, point-of-care (POC), in-vitro diagnostic medical devices. The company has developed more than 50 medical diagnostic devices, most of them with U.S. FDA 510(K) clearance and are European CE mark certified. In 2013, the company was awarded an Outstanding Service Award from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Dr. Wang’s inventions have been granted more than 27 patents by the United States Patent & Trademark Office. She received the National Leadership Award and California Businessman of the Year, National Republican Congressional Committee, in 2003. ALFA won the Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year in 2002 from the Small Business Administration, San Diego and Imperial Districts. Dr. Wang also serves as the Honorary Chairman of the Business Advisory Council, National Republican Congressional Committee, and has been a lifetime VIP member of America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals since 2002.

2018 - James Joye
James Joye

Dr. Joye is a native Ohioan who received his Bachelor of Science degree from Westminster College in 1984. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy degree in 1988 from the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University, where he has been awarded their Medal of Merit for outstanding contributions to medicine. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency and Cardiovascular Diseases Fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital, where he served as Chief Fellow of the cardiology program. Dr. Joye is board certified in Cardiovascular Diseases, Interventional Cardiology, and Endovascular Medicine.

For the past 20+ years Dr. Joye has maintained a busy interventional practice in Northern California focused on complex coronary, structural heart, and endovascular procedures. Through his affiliation with El Camino Hospital he has served as founding Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Labs, Research & Education, and the Structural Heart Program. Dr. Joye also served as Chief Medical Officer of the Fogarty Institute for Innovation, a not-for-profit accelerator for medical device development.

Dr. Joye has been active in research throughout his career and has published and lectured extensively across the U.S. and abroad. He is a founding Board Member of VIVA Physicians, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to endovascular research and education. He has been principal investigator of countless clinical trials and has pioneered numerous cutting-edge procedures to improve the lives of his patients. Dr. Joye has authored over 20 issued patents and has founded 3 medical device companies dedicated to minimally invasive therapies for peripheral arterial disease.

2017 - David Pidwell
David Pidwell

Pidwell (BSEE ’69, MS ’70) has been a partner with Alloy Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, since January 1996. His investment activities are concentrated in the computer software industry, primarily with companies addressing enterprise information management, the internet, or software-as-a-service (SaaS, cloud computing) related fields. He currently is on the Board of Directors of Xactly Corp., as well as one privately held corporation.

In 1986, Pidwell founded Rasna Corp., a mechanical design automation software company, and was CEO until 1995 when the firm was acquired by Parametric Technology Corp. Prior to Rasna, he was president and general manager of the Mil-Spec Computer Division of Rolm Corp. He was employed at Rolm from the company’s early startup for 15 years. With more than 2,500 employees and $1.2 billion in annual revenue, the company was acquired in 1985 by IBM.

Pidwell has been a faculty member, lecturer or student mentor with the Stanford University Graduate School of Business for the past 20 years. He is currently a member of the Ohio University Board of Trustees, a trustee emeritus of the Ohio University Foundation and a member of the dean’s advisory council for the university’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Recently, he has been involved in developing the Ohio University C-Suite, a campus-wide hub for student entrepreneurship, social and public innovation and creative endeavors.

Pidwell is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Ohio University Russ College of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates, and the College of Business Award for Achievement in Business. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and industrial and systems engineering from Ohio University, and has completed three years of study at Stanford University on a PhD in engineering economic systems.

2017 - Rob Painter
Rob Painter

Painter (BS ’93) is a founding partner at Razor’s Edge Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on investing in technologies and businesses that deliver direct, meaningful impact to the U.S. defense and intelligence community. He actively mentors and advises venture-backed companies in Silicon Valley, the Rocky Mountain Region and the Mid- Atlantic while serving on the Board of Directors for Mersive Technologies, Wireless Registry, Zoomdata, Hawkeye 360, AELIUS Exploitation Technologies and LoudounSTEAM, a non-profit he founded in 2015. He is also a special advisor to the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command. Painter is a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army National Guard.

In tandem with the founding of Razor’s Edge, Painter was the executive director for strategy and innovation at Raytheon-Blackbird Technologies and served as the director of venture investing for Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems Business Unit on behalf of the Advanced Concepts and Technologies Division. During his eight years at the company, Painter crafted and managed several classified, special access programs supporting both technology development and foreign and domestic intelligence operations for Intelligence Community and Department of Defense partners.

Before joining Raytheon-Blackbird Technologies, Painter was chief technologist for Google Federal and simultaneously a product manager for Google Geo supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster response activities worldwide. Prior to Google, he was the director of technology assessment at In-Q-Tel, the strategic venture capital firm of the U.S. Intelligence Community. His work with the firm includes leading over two dozen investments, most notably Keyhole, now Google Earth, and @Last Software, now Google SketchUp. His entrepreneurial experience also includes founding and exiting Encompass Technologies, Inc., a K-12 desktop mapping company created to enhance geography in the classroom.

Painter, who earned a bachelor’s degree in geography and computer science from Ohio University, is currently a fellow with the university’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. To engage his expertise with technology commercialization entrepreneurial services provider program TechGROWTH Ohio, part of the Voinovich School, Painter was recently named to the evaluation and selection committee of the newly awarded Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund.

2016 - Jake Sigal
Jake Sigal

Ohio University alumnus Jake Sigal has launched two successful startup companies, Livio and Tome. Both focus on digital audio, consumer electronics and internet-connected products. He has been awarded 11 U.S. patents for his innovations, which include a wireless internet radio system, a portable media player for digital content and various integrated automotive technologies.

Livio’s high-profile products, developed by Sigal, have included standalone internet radio collaborations with NPR and Pandora, and the Livio Connect software that facilitated the integration of mobile apps and vehicle hardware systems. Ford Motor Company acquired Livio in 2013.

Tome Software launched in 2014 and works with established companies to develop internet-connected products within the growing “Internet of Things” tech industry.

Sigal earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in industrial and systems engineering from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. In 2014, Ohio University awarded him the Charles J. and Claire O. Ping Recent Graduate Award for his achievements. He has earned numerous industry honors, including the Automotive Leadership Up and Coming Award from the Detroit Free Press, and has been a semifinalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Sigal, whose companies are based in metro Detroit, frequently returns to the Athens campus where he once performed with the Marching 110. He enjoys speaking to Russ College students and other young entrepreneurs about the technology commercialization and business fields. He also actively mentors new startup companies in Detroit through the Techstars business accelerator program.

2015 - Winston Breeden III
Winston Breeden III

Winston Breeden started his product development career soon after college, when he helped develop and bring to market a patented adjustable bungee cord. This launched a consumer products career that helped him develop relationships with every hard parts retailer in North America and now sells into 40+ countries globally. After an eight year career at Highland Group Industries, he launched Winston Products LLC, which introduced its first patented product in 2005. Winston Products is a product development company that markets eight different consumer products brands that encompass 1500+ SKUs. Those brands include SmartStraps, (Tie downs), TowSmart (Towing ball and ball mounts), CargoSmart (Exterior car products), Swopt (Brooms and cleaning utensils), FlatCat (Golf accessories), Nature’s Way (Bird feeders), SmartDock (Smart phone holder) and Healthy Foods (Yonanas). Breeden is an alumnus of the Ohio University Scripps College of Communication.

2015 - Joseph Jachinowski
Joseph Jachinowski

Joseph Jachinowski has served as chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors for Mevion Medical Systems since 2009 and as the company’s president since 2012. Mevion developed the world’s first single-room proton therapy system for cancer therapy. This innovative product has made proton therapy a much more viable approach for treating cancer. Prior to joining Mevion, he served as CEO and president of Elekta North America, a leading supplier of radiation therapy equipment, from 2005 to 2009. Prior to Elekta, Jachinowski cofounded IMPAC Medical Systems and served as its president and CEO from 1990 through its initial public offering in 2002 and culminating in its sale to Elekta in 2005. IMPAC was the world’s leading supplier of information technology in the oncology field. Prior to IMPAC, Jachinowski worked at Varian Medical Systems Inc., where he was responsible for leading the team that developed their innovative linear accelerator products from 1983 to 1990. Jachinowski began his career at SJE Laboratories, a company he cofounded with former Ohio University professor Edmund O. Schweitzer. SJE (now SEL) created some of the first all-digital protection and control instruments for electric power systems. Jachinowski received a bachelors degree from Ohio University and a masters from Washington State University–Pullman both in electrical engineering.

2014 - Hua-Thye Chua
H T Chua

Chua and fellow Ohio University alumnus Richard Bohn designed Intel Corporation's first commercial product, the i3101 64-bit RAM chip, which appeared on the market in 1969. Together with Bohn and Robert Noyce, Intel's co-founder, he published a paper outlining the use of Schottky diodes to enhance the speed of transistor-transistor logic (TTl). The technology is now commonplace in the semiconductor industry.

After leaving Intel, in the 1970s Chua joined Monolithic Memories, where he invented Programmable Array Logic (PAL) technology with John Birkner. The technology is the predecessor of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA), which are common in electronic prototyping and applications in the space, aerospace and defense sectors. Chua later co-founded the company QuickLogic, which provides ultra-low power semiconductor solutions for electronic products. He was inducted into Electronic Design's Engineering Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Russ College Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2004.

2014 - Rick Hawkins
Rick Hawkins

Hawkins is the CEO of Lumos Pharma, which is developing a disease-modifying therapeutic for Creatine Transporter Deficiency, an inborn error of metabolism in patients that results in a severe form of autism. He has founded and/or led several biotechnology startup companies, including Pharmaco, id2, Covance Biotechnology Services and LabNow, and is a director in two publicly traded biopharma companies, SciCione Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Cytori Therapeutics. He is an elected member of the National Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame. Hawkins previously has been awarded Ohio University's Distinguished Business Achievement Award and was inducted into the Hall of Honor at the University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Sciences.

2013 - William Beale
William Beale

Beale served on the faculty of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University from 1960 to 1974. In 1964, he created a new form of Stirling engine known as the Free-Piston Stirling Engine, which featured significant improvements in performance and simplicity.

He obtained a patent in 1971 and left the university in 1974 to found a start-up company, Sunpower, Inc., in Athens, Ohio. Over the years, Beale has received 26 patents for his work, and his company spun off two additional Athens technology firms, Stirling Technology, Inc. and Global Cooling, Inc. Sunpower recently was purchased and now is operated by Ametek, Inc.

Beale continues to work on new technologies. During his last years at Sunpower, he invented a new approach to a continuously variable transmission, upon which a second company, Beale Innovations, Inc., was founded. This technology is still in development, but has potential for improving the efficiency of cars, bicycles and motor-driven industrial equipment such as blowers and pumps.

2012 - John Kopchick
John Kopchick

John Kopchick is the Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of Molecular Biology in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and Edison Biotechnology Institute. Kopchick and his group were the first to discover and characterize growth hormone receptor antagonists, which led to the development of an FDA-approved drug (Somavert®) for patients with acromegaly. The drug has benefited thousands of patients and has generated significant licensing income for the university. (Watch video of Kopchick talking about his research.)

2012 - David Scholl
David Scholl

David Scholl, an Ohio University alumnus, is the former president and CEO of Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc. Under his leadership, the Athens, Ohio company grew from a four-person startup to the Inc. 500 list, emerging as a world leader in cell- and monoclonal antibody-based diagnostics. Scholl is a current partner in the venture capital firm Athenian Venture Partners and a member of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and Foundation Board.