Entrepreneurship Challenge Winners Announced

2014 VTKnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Challenge

The VT KnowledgeWorks Sixth Annual Entrepreneurship Challenge was a success as enthusiastic attendees gathered at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on April 18. 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 welcoming remarks by Sherry Walker of NuSpark, a work and collaboration space for innovators with pre-launch start-ups, and Marc Junkunc of Innovate House, a living-learning community, which brings together a diverse group of high-performing committed students into a high-energy learning environment.

The Tech Transfer Challenge award went to Atieh Haghdoost and Mehdi Kargar of P&P Coating. P&P Coating is a Virginia Tech spin-off formed around the patent pending technology platform of low-cost porous coatings completely made of earth-abundant metals.

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.

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 Hydrokinetic Energy Systems, LIN System, and pheno-CHIP.

After the Tech Transfer Challenge, the audience heard from Regional Funding Sources including Jason Gabriel with Third Security Valleys’ Ventures Fund, Jennifer O’Daniel with CIT GAP Funds, Eva Doss with The Launch Place Seed Fund, and Jim Flowers with VT KnowledgeWorks Game Changers Challenge.

The Student Business Concept Challenge award went to Vestigo. Joe Acanfora, Paul Feagan, and Jeff Morris won $10,000 in scholarships plus summer workspace at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. Vestigo uses a novel data collection system that takes advantage of inexpensive, high quality laser rangefinders in tandem with a mobile service – to provide a real time map of available parking. DealAdder, Detect-C, L8 Magnetic/Kinetic Toy, and Project OrganiCo 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 21, 2014, 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.

For the first time ever at the Entrepreneurship Challenge, audience members selected their favorite student team to win the People’s Choice award of $5,000 in scholarships, generously sponsored by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business. The winning team who took home the People’s Choice award was Project OrganiCo with Steven Zimmerman, Sebastian Walker, Don Choi and John Lucas.

“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.

For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at [email protected]

VT KnowledgeWorks wants to thank our generous sponsors of the Entrepreneurship Challenge including CIT GAP Funds, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech Office of the Vice President for Research, Virginia Tech Outreach & International Affairs, and Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.

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VT KnowledgeWorks

VT 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 Sponsors

Allegheny Logistics Group, Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law Group, Interactive Achievement, Inc., Latimer Intellectual Property Law, LLC, Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, NetVentures, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Rackspace, Shentel, StellarOne Bank, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint.

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