Sometimes it's clear: a genius of an idea just needs someone to run with it. That's the case with Clear Collar, a product dreamed up by Alan Donaldson of Winston-Salem and being developed by his son-in-law Cassmer Ward of Charlotte. Donaldson, an emergency room nurse, regularly saw injured people arrive at the hospital wearing opaque neck collars placed on them by EMTs. Nurses and doctors must move those collars to check for trauma underneath, increasing the risk of neck injury. Donaldson thought, why not make the collar clear and eliminate that risk? He made a prototype out of household plastics and got a patent. But nothing came of it until Ward jumped on it as part of his entrepreneurship project in the MBA program at Queens University of Charlotte. "Here's your chance for free consulting," Ward told his father-in-law. After graduation, Ward quit his job with a structural engineering firm to develop Clear Collar full time. The fledgling company has lined up manufacturing and distribution and now needs $1.2 million from investors. First big investor to write a check: an emergency room doctor.