Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

Congratulations to IMSA TALENT Power Pitch Winners

IMSA student entrepreneurs Lydia Auch and Kenzo Esquivel won 1st place and a $3,000 grand prize for their new business idea during the 4th Annual IMSA TALENT Power Pitch at the IBM Innovation Center in Chicago.

In celebration of its 25th Anniversary, IMSA teamed up with the MIT Enterprise Forum to present the 4th Annual IMSA TALENT Power Pitch at the IBM Innovation Center in Chicago on March 6.

During the Power Pitch, student finalists presented their ideas for a business, product or service to potential investors, competing for cash prizes made possible by the generosity of the late Virginia B. Cherry and additional supporters. 

Winners for this year's competition included:

1st place and $3,000 - IMSA students Lydia Auch and Kenzo Esqivel (pictured center) for ATONA, a digital music reader

2nd place and $2,000 - Nequa Valley High School (Aurora) student Andrew Chen (pictured left) for TOSigram, an application to help start-ups develop terms of service

3rd place and $1,000 - Granger Middle School (Aurora) student Shivansh Padhy (pictured right) for The Living TEG, an idea to convert body heat into energy to power devices.

This year’s competition was focused on technology businesses and feature a panel of distinguished judges from the Chicago business community including:

·         Mr. Jose DeFranciso, Director of Marketing for Cloud Computing at Alcatel-Lucent

·         Mr. Bob Geras, President LaSalle Investments

·         Dr. Lance Pressl, President of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation

·         Mr. Nik Rokop, Executive Director of the Knapp Entrepreneurial Center

·         Mr. Kevin Willer, President of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

The event also was featured in Chicago media including Crain's Chicago Business and the Aurora Beacon-News.

The annual Power Pitch is the culminating event of the IMSA TALENT Program, which focuses on student entrepreneurship in a context of science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM). The TALENT program provides on-campus, off-campus and virtual learning experiences to help IMSA students and others in Illinois take a concept from idea to start up.  Featured speakers throughout the year have included a number of IMSA alumni entrepreneurs who have founded companies including Spark Notes, OKCupid and GoPicnic.

IMSA TALENT Program Power Pitch Finalists with Jim Gerry (far left), Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at IMSA and Carl Heine (far right), Lead Innovation Architect at IMSA.

The TALENT Program is supported by various individuals, corporations and foundations.  If interested, contact Paul Milano at (630.907.5989).

For students interested in a summer camp experience, IMSA will be hosting the new TALENT UPgrade Experience July 15 - July 27 for high school entrepreneurs who have a business idea they want to take to the next level.  To apply and for more information visit

The internationally recognized Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced, residential college preparatory program, and it serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond through innovative instructional programs that foster imagination and inquiry. IMSA also advances education through research, groundbreaking ventures and strategic partnerships. (

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