EyeVerify Wins National Start Up Competition, Ready for International Clash

 Technology created in a UMKC lab; UMKC
Innovation Center brought company together

Kansas City, Mo.EyeVerify, a Kansas City startup whose technology was developed by a University of Missouri-Kansas City professor, beat seven other finalists from across the nation to win Monday night’s Get In The Ring: The American StartUp Clash.

Get in the Ring is a startup pitch competition that allows entrepreneurs to compete for funding. The Kauffman Foundation hosted the event as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush will fly to the Netherlands this week to compete at the global finals on Nov. 22 for a chance at more than $1 million in funding.

EyeVerify is a mobile app that works in nearly every smartphone on the market, and can identify a person by scanning the blood-vessel patterns in the whites of their eyes. Judges at the competition likely recognized what the EyeVerify team has long understood – that smartphone users all over the globe could potentially use their “eye prints” to unlock accounts and access files.

Reza Derakhshani, an associate professor in UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering, created the technology in a UMKC lab. The then-unnamed technology was notable for the fact that it was nearly foolproof. After all, the vasculature in every person’s eyes are unique. Twins, and even clones, don’t share the same vasculature.  And, unlike fingerprints, vasculature patterns are more private and secure.

With the help of UMKC’s Innovation Center, Derakhshani’s technology was paired with a CEO, creating a chance to commercialize the technology.

Maria Meyers, director of the UMKC Innovation Center, says that Monday night’s victory is a major step forward for the locally grown company.

“This is exactly what our Whiteboard to Boardroom program was created to do: helping something come out of a lab and get turned into a company. Winning the Get in the Ring competition puts EyeVerify on the map and in the minds of the world’s great entrepreneurial thinkers,” Meyers said. “I think we’ll all be able to look back in 20 years and say, ‘I had something to do with something that’s now really successful.’ ”

The win is equally heartening for Derakhshani, who has seen this technology grow from a wild idea to a thriving company.

“Just the fact that EyeVerify will be competing in the global finals is huge. Years ago, I couldn’t have imagined this day, but now, thanks to our CEO Toby Rush and the early help from the UMKC Innovation Center, EyeVerify is getting international attention and a shot at game-changing funding,” Derakhshani said.




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