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Success story: UT alum, Grypmat inventor to speak Nov. 29

An alumnus of both The University of Toledo and its LaunchPad Incubation Program, whose invention called the Grypmat is on the cover of Time magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2018” issue, is returning to his alma mater to inspire future entrepreneurs.

Tom Burden, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, will speak at a free, public event Thursday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. in the Launchpad Incubator Space on the second floor of Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at 1510 N. Westwood Ave. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m.

The UT Engineering Leadership Institute is hosting the discussion titled “Idea to Invention of the Year.”

“Tom’s success with the Grypmat is incredible,” UT Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “We are proud of what he has accomplished as an entrepreneur, but not surprised. He won UT’s Pitch & Pour competition while he was a student here, and he also returned last year to serve as a judge for the annual business pitch contest.”

Burden was recently listed in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30, and the Grypmat was named one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year.

He plans to discuss his experience taking his product idea to market, including how he landed a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and built a team.

“The University of Toledo and the city of Toledo have many opportunities that I used to make my way to where I am now,” Burden said. “I am passionate about education, helping future generations of entrepreneurs, and giving back to the people who supported me.”

The Grypmat, which Burden designed as a solution to mechanics frustrated by their tools sliding off aircraft while they work, is a flexible, non-slip tool mat made of a unique polymer-silicone blend that helps grip tools and keep them in place at extreme angles of up to 70 degrees.

The product is popular with aircraft, boat and car mechanics. Burden also said he is working with NASA for its use on spaceships.