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Can I charge my cell phone just by walking? Lizeth Fuentes Cervantes of Mexico believes you can. Her company, Inergia, has developed a portable knee-charger designed to generate power as you hike or stroll.

How do I keep track of everything everyone tells me at the doctor’s office? PlainDoc might have the answer. The app, developed by Aron Gates of Hungary, is designed to help people organize and keep track of a medical plan.

These and other ideas were revealed at the first International Student Pitch Contest, which unfolded November 1 at the Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern. The showcase drew college students and recent graduates from universities throughout the area, including Case Western, Cleveland State, Kent State and Akron.

The event was made possible by the generosity of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation , which supports entrepreneurship, and was co-sponsored by Global Cleveland and the Health Tech Corridor.

The atmosphere was friendly and expectant in the cozy tavern, as young people from around the world pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges, vying for cash and prizes.

A dozen finalists competed in four categories: Business Management and Process Improvement; IT and Connected Devices (IOT); Community and Civic Innovations; Healthcare and Biomedical. 

The range and complexity of ideas impressed observers like Mike Maczuzak, the founder and CEO of SmartShape, a Cleveland design firm.

He listened intently as Gholamreza Khademi, an engineering student at Cleveland State University, described a prosthetic limb with self-generating power. Later, the two exchanged business cards.

“It’s technology based on the real physicality. That’s what’s cool about it,” Maczuzak said.

Global Cleveland is excited to provide a platform for these innovative and original ideas, and we hope to continue to provide events like this in the future.

“Not only were the pitches done by international students and recent graduates from several area schools, but our judges were also former international students who brought their expertise in evaluating the pitches,” said Joe Cimperman, the president of Global Cleveland. “We think this was a great experience all around and look forward to developing even more support for international student entrepreneurs.”


Our judges were:

Radhika Reddy, Ariel Ventures

MJ Wilson, JumpStart

Renjun Bao, Tencent

Shasha Zhao, The Robbins Company

Cal Al-dhubaib, Pandata LLC

Eugene Malinskiy, DragonID


The winners were:

IT/Connected Devices (IOT)

Lizeth Fuentes Cervantes for her company Inergia and its power generating device

Country of Origin: Mexico

A member of Instituto Politécnico Nacional, YLAI – Young Leaders of America Initiative visiting Cleveland 

Community/Civic Innovations
Yulu Li for launching the international young professionals group Friends of Global Cleveland

Country of Origin: China 

Graduate of Cleveland State University


Aron Gates for his healthcare app PlainDoc

Country of Origin: Hungary

College: Kent State University 

Business Management and Process Improvement

Faraz Ahmed for the job-matching process CareerFix

Country of Origin: India

College: Case Western Reserve University

People’s Choice Award

Lizeth Fuentes Cervantes was chosen by the audience via live online voting.



International students or recent graduates who would like to get involved or pitch in next year’s contest, contact: [email protected]