Erie Art Museum Announces Grand Prize Winner of InnovationErie Design Competition 2013

In its fifth year of competition, InnovationErie announced the grand prizewinner of the 2013 design competition. Of the 12 semi finalists who moved onto the second of three rounds of judging and exhibited their works at the Erie Art Museum, four individuals went on to present their product designs and media arts concepts to an independent panel of judges.

InnovationErie Design Competition was created in an effort to catalyze creative economic development in Northwest Pennsylvania by supporting an innovative community of artists, scientists, artists, manufacturers, engineers, and designers (SAM & ED). The competition invited artists, inventors and thinkers to submit their product design ideas and applied media arts concepts for a chance to win over $15,000 in cash and professional services, including intellectual property legal consulting services from McDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP, and other services from InnovationErie partners.

The applied media arts track was a new addition for 2013, and invited participants to submit animated works, new app ideas, online publishing ideas, web and video design, unique online art sales ideas, and photographic concepts.

InnovationErie is open to any individual, team or small business in the United States, though all products or media ideas must have the ability to be manufactured or created in the greater Erie, PA region.

The Grand Prizewinner for 2013 is Nick Marinelli of Erie with an original product design idea, Tie Down Caddy. Marinelli describes his product as “the ultimate organizer and space saver for elastic tie down cords and straps. It is constructed in a way to keep them from becoming tangled.” The Tie Down Caddy, made of heavy duty molded plastic, can be manufactured in the Erie, PA area.

The First Runner Up is Philip Ventrello, of Erie, with Munio, which comes from a Latin word meaning “I defend” or “I protect.” The product is a small, attractively shaped, stylish personal security key chain. “It seamlessly combines form and function, transforming a fashion accessory into an effective hand held safety option,” Ventrello, a martial arts instructor, says. “It can be easily mass produced with injection molding and decorated with vinyl graphics.”

The Second Runner Up is Todd Scalise, of Erie, with Mosaix, an applied media arts concept. Mosaix is a browser-based web application that allows the user to create an infinite array of tessellation mosaics in the form of artistic kitchen magnets, unique wall tiles, and fashionable floor coverings. “With MOSAIX’s uniquely shaped design and ease of on-line application you will be creating your own patterns in no time,” Scalise says. “At the click of a button, your MOSAIX are manufactured and shipped right to your door for quick installation. Anyone can do it. All that is required is a little imagination!”

Scalise was also the winner of the Applied Media Arts track of the competition, entitling him to a $10,000 grant for equipment, services and membership with Edinboro University’s stARTup Incubator.

Third Runner Up is Dr. Deepak Pahuja, of Erie, with Aero Ear Curette. Pahuj specializes in medical device innovation, hospitalist program restructuring and design. He is the inventor of the ergonomic stethoscope grip, disposable stethoscope cover and stethoscope sanitizer, and won second prize at the InnovationErie Design Competition in 2011 for his Stethoscope cover design. The purpose of the ear curette is to remove cerumen from the ear canal to overcome hearing impairment and to keep the ear canals clean.

The Best In Show, chosen by public ballots cast during the length of the exhibition at the Erie Art Museum goes to Yvonne Atkinson, of Waterford, with Home Town Ties. Atkinson’s product is “a fashion innovation that combines artistry and style with a community purpose, she says. “A distinct symbol of a community icon such as a monument, landmark, or innovation will be the theme for these ties. This image, combined with a portion of the proceeds donated to local non-profits, will greatly benefit any community.”

“This year’s slate of finalists was by far the strongest set we’ve seen,” said Atty. Jonathan M. D’Silva of MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP and Chair of the InnovationErie committee. “We believe that each of them will likely be successful with hard work and perseverance.”

A complete list of the winners’ services and cash prizes, as well as InnovationErie sponsors, can be found on the competition’s website, The deadline for next year’s competition is May 14, 2014. Interested candidates can apply at

About the Erie Art Museum
The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multi-disciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 7,000 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

For additional information on the Erie Art Museum, visit online at or call (814) 459-5477.





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