UA Student Teams Win $2,000 to Grow Their Business Innovations

UA Student Teams Win $2,000 to Grow Their Business Innovations

Insomnovation/Cari Humphry

Fixing insomnia. Bettering dialysis. Constructing a robotic to mow your garden. 

U of A college students tackled a myriad of neighborhood points in a seed-funding pitch competitors final week hosted by the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with six groups taking residence $2,000 towards buyer discovery, prototyping, market analysis or design.  

The profitable groups included a mixture of undergraduate and graduate college students who had performed prior buyer discovery or market analysis to advance their companies and improvements. 

“Watching these college students compete for funds to assist assist their very own entrepreneurial concepts just isn’t solely entertaining however inspiring to know that this subsequent technology is engaged on making a big effect on this planet we reside in,” mentioned Justin Urso, director of the McMillon Innovation Studio, U of A’s bodily innovation hub. 

Eleven groups have been chosen to make three-minute pitches on Oct. 20 to a panel of professional judges consisting of native enterprise leaders, entrepreneurs and U of A alumni. A five-minute Q&A adopted every pitch.  

The six profitable groups included a mixture of undergrad and graduate college students who had performed prior buyer discovery or market analysis to advance their companies and improvements.  

Mission: Mentor, an schooling know-how non-profit, was the judges’ top-ranked group. The platform not too long ago launched a web site to a couple thousand college students. 

“We’re excited by the award that OEI has generously supplied, particularly as a result of our mission parallels the college’s pursuit to offer transformational alternatives and abilities,” mentioned Amanda Thomsen, Mission: Mentor’s head of product. 

Thomsen mentioned the group plans to make use of the seed funding to develop its person testing capabilities and speed up growth, which can enable Mission: Mentor to make the transition to postsecondary schooling extra accessible and reasonably priced for college students. 

“Our subsequent step is to construct and launch a full digital faculty counselor expertise, the place college students can monitor their upcoming utility deadlines, comply with a customized examine plan for standardized checks, discover related scholarships or extracurricular applications and extra.” 

“It was a formidable lineup of scholars, each graduate and undergraduate groups that competed,” Urso mentioned. 

“I can solely hope that subsequent semesters pitch occasion might be in individual and a whole bunch of individuals can watch and likewise be impressed by the expertise and laborious work these college students are placing in.” 

Funding for the competitors was made attainable by particular person donors and the Ron and Casondra LeMay Endowment for Entrepreneurial Law. Established in 2014, the endowment helps educating, analysis, applications and scholarships designed to arrange the subsequent technology of legal professionals appropriately expert in enterprise and entrepreneurial regulation, and to encourage the skilled growth of entrepreneurs by alternatives for authorized coaching. 


  • AutoWillow Inc. — Quinn Childress, senior, laptop engineering 

    • AutoWillow is designing an all-in-one garden care robotic that may halt labor turnover and decrease charges for tools damages. Understanding of OEI’s Startup Village, AutoWillow plans to make use of their funding for authorized analysis. 

  • Enzyme Safety — Madison McKim, Govt Grasp of Enterprise Administration candidate; Caleb Carman, Govt Grasp of Enterprise Administration candidate; Jacob Inexperienced, Grasp of Enterprise Administration candidate; Julia Loshelder, Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering and Graduate Entrepreneurial Fellow 

    • Harnessing an enzyme sequestering platform, this know-how will assist poultry higher soak up vitamins throughout feeding. This in flip would require much less enter from poultry producers and scale back the environmental influence as much less vitamins are expelled within the type of phosphorus. A graduate New Enterprise Improvement group that features two Tyson Meals staff, the group plans to make use of their funding for market analysis. 

  • Gamma Vet — Zach Waldrip, Graduate Certificates in Entrepreneurship candidateBraden Bateman, Grasp’s candidate, Agricultural Economics and Graduate Entrepreneurial Fellow; Brett Littlejohn, Govt Grasp of Enterprise Administration candidate; Shana Owens, Graduate Certificates in Entrepreneurship candidate 

    • Gamma Vet is a graduate New Enterprise Improvement group engaged on a medical check for Felis catus gamma herpesvirus, a novel feline herpesvirus affecting greater than 32 % of cats worldwide. They plan to make use of the funding to develop a prototype for a business diagnostic gadget. 

  • Insomnovation — Julia Davis, senior, administration; Nikolas Limperis, senior, finance; Wesley Smith, senior, enterprise administration; Masako Suzuki, senior, advertising and marketing

    • Insomnovation will present a month-to-month subscription “sleep field” stuffed with pure dietary supplements to boost sleep, together with a blood check to detect vitamin deficiencies which will set off insomnia. The McMillon Studio group plans to incorporate an app with the service so customers can monitor their sleep. Insomnovation will use their funding to start prototyping and design providers. 

  • Mission: Mentor — Amanda Thomsen, junior, economics; Jack Norris, junior, laptop science; Stephen Pierson, junior, mechanical engineering 

    • A free, digital faculty counselor for highschool college students, Mission: Mentor is an schooling know-how non-profit that hyperlinks college students with faculty scholarships, boosts their extracurricular profiles and matches them with customized check plans to enhance their ACT/SAT scores. Having not too long ago launched a website to a couple thousand college students, Mission: Mentor plans to make use of its funding for prototyping and buyer discovery. 

  • Retractable Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter — Mackenzie Kapales, senior, biomedical engineering; Jose Sanchez, senior, mechanical engineering; Christopher Schaefer, senior, pre-med; Tayte Stephens, senior, biomedical engineering; Larissa Whale, senior, biomedical engineering 

    • This design group from the U of A’s biomedical engineering division seeks to revamp the present peritoneal dialysis catheter in order that it retracts its exterior tubing after remedy. Present peritoneal catheters prolong from the physique, and the group found that leads to decreased mobility and vanity for the customers whereas harboring an an infection threat. The group plans to make use of its funding for prototyping. 


Concerning the U of A Workplace of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Workplace of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for college students throughout all disciplines. Via the Brewer Household Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio and Startup Village, OEI offers free workshops and applications — together with social and company innovation design groups, enterprise internships, competitions and startup teaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton School of Enterprise and Division of Financial Improvement, OEI additionally gives on-demand assist for college students who might be innovators inside present organizations and entrepreneurs who begin one thing new.  

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