Entrepreneurship Challenge Winners Announced

The VT KnowledgeWorks Fifth Annual Entrepreneurship Challenge was a great success as enthusiastic attendees gathered at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on April 10, 2013.  The Entrepreneurship Challenge provided a unique opportunity for student teams from Virginia Tech and entrepreneurs to present before a panel of local business leaders. 

The Challenge began with a keynote address by Dr. Ben Knapp, Director of the Virginia Tech Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT).  Dr. Knapp explained ICAT’s vision for encouraging ongoing intersection of artistic points of view and technological advancements to fuel acceleration of creativity in all aspects of modern life. During a lunch buffet, attendees listened as Mike Drzal, Shareholder of LeClairRyan, spoke about the capital continuum as part of the region’s innovation ecosystem and provided an update regarding progress on capital access.

There were two winning concepts in the Tech Transfer Challenge, including Keraesthetics and NanoSpin.  The winning teams will receive $100,000 worth of mentorship and business support services over a two-year period, including assistance in developing the overall business strategy as well as the presentations and plan documents needed for investor discussions and product launch. 

Mark Van Dyke and Maria Rahmany of Keraesthetics, develop soft tissue bulking products using keratin biomaterials.  The company’s lead product, KeraFil, can be used for facial aesthetic applications such as facial line and wrinkle reduction, as well as a therapeutic treatment for vocal cord restoration and tissue reconstruction.

NanoSpin is a cooling system for computers and electronic devices that uses a liquid dispersion of magnetic nanoparticles to dissipate waste heat. NanoSpin team members include Suvojit Ghosh, Ravi Kappiyoor, Souvik Pal, Chris Prohoda, Mehran Tehrani, and Ishwar K. Puri.

The Tech Transfer Challenge provides an opportunity for Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students and/or alumni proposing to establish a new venture in Blacksburg, a chance to accelerate their innovative technology transfer from the university to the private sector.  Other teams that competed in the Tech Transfer Challenge were Laser Light Energy Applications in Wood Products Production, NanoMed, LLC, and VT Transportation Technologies.

The winning concept in the Student Business Concept Competition was PureAir: Emergency Asthma and COPD Inhalers.  Stephen Epstein won $10,000 in scholarships plus summer workspace at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.  PureAir is designing the world’s smallest profile emergency inhaler, which can work within minutes and can be a lifesaving device to the over 28 million Americans with asthma.  Campus Tech, the Card Isle, Combined Sand Metal Printing, NanoSpin, and ViGLi also competed for the grand prize.

The winning student team will also advance to the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge and compete for the $25,000 grand prize on August 22, 2013, at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia.  The Global Student Challenge is part of the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week, which offers university students, faculty, and business professionals from all over the world a chance to collaborate, form partnerships and build their global networks.

“Congratulations to our winners.  They have exciting prospects, both personally and professionally.  But, just as important, the overall competition was outstanding.  According to our judges, and based on follow-up inquiries by local investors and entrepreneurs, we have possibly identified as many as seven or eight viable startups for our region.”
– Jim Flowers, Executive Director, VT KnowledgeWorks

The VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Challenge is made possible with the support of our generous sponsors CIT GAP Funds, LeClairRyan, and The Virginia Tech College of Engineering and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center

Read more about the Entrepreneurship Challenge on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

Questions? Please ontact Christine Spalding at 540-443-9100 ext. 3 or via email at [email protected].

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VT KnowledgeWorksVT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks corporate sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&THarris Office FurnitureHodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C.Hutchison Law Group, Latimer IP Law, LLC , LeClairRyanNew River Valley IP Law, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)The Branch Group, and Wordsprint

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