WashU Competitions Launch New Companies in STL

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

In the startup world, competitions provide an array of opportunities for entrepreneurs to win funding as well as mentorship and training. Washington University in St. Louis just wrapped some of their biggest competitions this spring, appealing to a wide variety of entrepreneurs, from undergraduates to working professionals not associated with the university.

But how much do you know about the different challenges and their effects on our ecosystem? We broke down the different competitions:

Sydney Katz, an undergraduate student in electrical engineering, discussed WOOTA at the IDEA Labs “Demo Day.” The WOOTA team, which aims to alleviate the clean-water crisis in developing countries, recently took first place at the Discovery Competition. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)
Sydney Katz, an undergraduate student in electrical engineering, discussed WOOTA at the IDEA Labs “Demo Day.” The WOOTA team, which aims to alleviate the clean-water crisis in developing countries, recently took first place at the Discovery Competition. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

 

Boeing Patent Challenge

What It Is:  Student teams choose a patent from existing Boeing intellectual property, translate the patent to a different use, and develop a business plan around the idea.

Who should apply: Teams of WashU undergraduate, graduate and professional students, with faculty mentors. Must have representation from at least three different schools.

Award: Total of $5500 divided among top ideas

Spring 2016 Winners:

  • 1st Place ($2500): CyClean (filters coal processing plant emissions to create cleaner air)
  • 2nd Place ($1500): IceOff (a coating for automobile windshields that prevents ice buildup)
  • 3rd Place ($1000): SmartInk (provides an alternative solution to standard blood glucose measuring for diabetes patients)
  • Skandalaris Center People’s Choice Award ($500): H2Osmosis (increases efficiency of reverse osmosis)

Community Sponsor: Boeing’s Phantom Works Ventures
WU Sponsor: Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship

 

Discovery Competition

What It Is: The Student Entrepreneurship Competition, also known as the Discovery Competition, is an annual academic opportunity for engineering students to practice entrepreneurship, address real-world problems, and compete for funding.

Who should apply: WU Engineering undergraduates

Award: At least $25K

2015-2016 Winners:

  • 1st place ($20K, $5K in legal services): Water Out Of Thin Air (WOOTA) (offering a way to turn moisture from the air into a clean source of drinking water)
  • 2nd place ($15K, $5K in legal services): InVitro SELECT (provides an innovative selection system for assisted reproductive procedures such as in-vitro fertilization)
  • 3rd place ($5K) Hidden Hand (a device that aims to improve the management of bleeding duringsurgery)

Community Sponsor: Polsinelli Law Firm, Alumni donors
WU Sponsor: School of Engineering

 

Skandalaris Center Bear Cub Challenge 

What It Is: WashU’s Skandalaris Center Bear Cub Challenge is a business plan competition that fosters and enhances innovative and entrepreneurial talents through education, networking and funding. Awarded three times per year, the program funds translational research —not normally backed by federal grants—that is critical to demonstrating a technology’s commercial potential.

Who should apply: WashU faculty, post-docs and graduate students

Award: Up to $75K per team

Spring 2016 Winners:

  • Jennifer N. Silva, MD, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics; Pediatric Cardiology; Director, Pediatric Electrophysiology and Jonathan R. Silva, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, for technology to improve patient outcomes by facilitating catheter visualization.
  • Dirk Spitzer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Section of Hepatobiliary-Pancreatic and GI Surgery; Department of Surgery, for developing a new production method for a cancer drug using genetic engineering.
  • Gregory Grant, PhD, Professor and PNACL Director, Departments of Developmental Biology and Medicine and Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry Laboratory and Christina Stallings, PhD, Assistant Professor, Molecular Microbiology for the development of a drug to treat tuberculosis.
  • Mai Xu, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Oncology Division of Internal Medicine Department, for validating a blood test for lung cancer diagnosis.
  • Zohny Zohny, MD, Neurosurgery Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, for developing a wireless, dis-solvable bone stimulator that can be used for bone repair.

WU Sponsors: The Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship,  the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) and the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD)

 

Skandalaris Center Cup

What It Is: Formerly the Olin Cup, the Skandalaris Center Cup (renamed in 2015) competition supports for-profit entrepreneurship by providing a forum in which ideas can mature, entrepreneurs can learn, and new business networks can develop.

Who should apply: WashU students, postdocs and recent graduates

Award: Up to $5K, 6 months of mentorship and training, access to additional funding

2015-2016 Winners:

  • Pro-Arc Diagnostics (offering an assay to minimize the risk of a fatal neurological disorder in immunocompromised patients)
  • PerfecTemp (developing and producing a high-end modular insulation—primarily for use in clothing—that dynamically adjusts thermal properties to provide maximum comfort to the user over a broad range of ambient temperatures)

Community Sponsors: RubinBrown, LLC and Polsinelli Law Firm
WU Sponsor: Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship

 

Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC)

What It Is: The SEIC encourages collaboration between WashU and the community by matching up teams working on innovative solutions to address social problems with community organizations who want to fund them. Commercial as well as social ventures are eligible for the competition.

Who should apply: Open to anyone (no WashU-affiliation required) working on innovative social or commercial ventures to solve social problems

Award: Six months of mentorship and training; funding determined by selecting donors

2015-2016 Winners:

Community Sponsor:  The Mission Center
WU Sponsor: Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship

 

Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award

What It Is: This award supports ventures that are scalable, sustainable and quick-to-market with proof of concept and a broad impact.

Who should apply: Open to all, but teams must include at least one WashU-affiliated team member with a meaningful role.
Award: Up to $50K

2015 Winner:  Applied Particle Technology (APT) created a unique filtration technology that provides cleaner indoor air and lowers energy bills. Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, along with doctoral students Jiaxi Fang and Tandeep Chadha, founded APT in 2014.

Community Sponsors: Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal
WU Sponsor: Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship