On April 13 and 14 the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) held the second phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge in partnership with the University of Iowa’s Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Iowa Research Foundation, and UI Ventures. The Iowa Innovation Challenge awarded $276,500 during the 2019-2020 academic year to support innovation across campus and is open to all University of Iowa faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and incubator startups.
The second phase of the Challenge was a business model canvas (BMC) pitch competition which took place early last week. A total of 52 UI businesses applied to compete in the business model competition. Thirty-six were selected as finalists to compete virtually due to COVID-19.
In a new division of the Iowa Innovation Challenge, University of Iowa Alumni, Venture School Alumni, and UI Business Consulting Clients were invited to submit a 60-second video and an executive summary of their business. Thirty-seven submissions were received.
Congratulations to all the winners of the second phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge!
Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and Incubator Startup Awards
- 1st Place, $25,000 | CartilaGen – Jaison Marks (Graduate Student, Orthopedics) Medical technology that is capable of preventing posttraumatic osteoarthritis.
- 2nd Place, $15,000 | VerdiLife – Mahdi Eghbali (Graduate Student, Economics) Strives to make the Earth a healthier place by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and replacing harmful chemicals used in agriculture with all-natural solutions.
- 3rd Place, $10,000 | Apollo – Jon Lensing (College of Medicine) A web-based platform that seeks to match physicians and other healthcare providers with hiring hospitals seeking shift coverage.
- 4th Place, $5,000 | Firefly Photonics – Michael Jones, Fatima Toor, and John Prineas (UI Research Park) A leader in the research and development of high performance mid- to long-wave infrared LED and laser technology.
Honorable Mention ($2,500 each)
- Cardio Diagnostics – Meesha Dogan (Assoc. Research Scientist/Engineer Psychiatry, Adjunct Asst. Prof Biomedical Engineering) A precision Medtech company that is developing the first at-home clinical, artificial intelligence-driven DNA test to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
- PaniClean – Joun Lee (Incubator Startup) Develops key technological innovations to improve the energy efficiency of the water treatment process and lower freshwater cost.
- Graze Analytics – Daniel Machlab (Graduate Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering) Helps restaurants improve their profitability by providing them with data analytics on customer feedback.
Undergraduate Student Awards
Best Technology/High Growth
- 1st Place, $10,000 | Track My Tummy – Farhanudin Syed (Finance) A photo-based smartphone application to help patients identify foods triggering their chronic symptoms.
- 2nd Place, $4,000 (tied) | Avarupt – Caleb Marting (Computer Science) Custom LED lighting solutions for businesses.
- 2nd Place, $4,000 (tied) | Palate Pal – Ally Carey (Biomedical Engineering), Jennifer Mount (Biomedical Engineering), Hannah Drkulec (Cellular Engineering), and Taylor Deutsch (Biomechanics) A device that assists patients with limited upper extremity mobility to improve eating dependence.
- 1st Place, $3,500 | CapturePro – Patrick Prosser (Finance). Lane Dethrow (Pre-Business), Brittany Caskey (Pre-Business) A rental company that provides customers with a GoPro and other accessories needed to record an adventure, shipped directly to your destination.
- 2nd Place, $2,500 | Funny Nuggets – Jade Peterson (Marketing and Elementary Education) Comedy clubhouse for kids.
- 3rd Place, $1,000 | Kimik Sustainable Solutions – Trent Katz (Finance) A recycling bin that tracks how many bottles and cans are being placed in the bin.
Best Retail Business
- 1st Place, $3,500 | Schneider Custom Designs – Blane Schneider (Mechanical Engineering) A woodworking company specializing in unique coffee tables, side tables, cutting boards, and other furniture using a mix of wood and beautifully colored epoxy resin.
- 2nd Place, $2,500 | Fruit for the Earth – Blake Quarrie (Accounting) A service company offering white label fertilizer to retailers produced from organic waste.
- 3rd Place, $1,000 | FoodCents – Erika Law (Entrepreneurial Management) A hands-on educational game about nutrition for elementary school students.
Best Social Impact
- 1st Place, $3,500 | HeadsIn – Matt Lewis (Enterprise Leadership) Intelligent, communication application that monitors and tracks the mental health of student-athletes.
- 2nd Place, $2,500 | Assistance Technologies – Michael Westphal (Human Physiology), John Tian (Enterprise Leadership), and Zach Combs (Pre-Business) RFID bracelet key for use within assisted living centers.
- 3rd Place, $1,000 | Socialite – Ethan Bennett (Computer Science) A social media platform for making friends.
Best Lifestyle Business
- 1st Place, $3,500 | FestPlug – Michael Dankanich (Open Major) A digital platform that facilitates easy hiring at music festivals.
- 2nd Place, $2,500 | Eagers – Katy Misel (Entrepreneurial Management) An after school entrepreneurship program for upper elementary and middle school students.
- 3rd Place, $1,000 | Sunflower Mobile Dentist – Anna Fox (Health Science-Multidisciplinary Science) A nonprofit, faith-based dental clinic that offers free care to the homeless living in high need areas in Iowa.
Best Overall Pitch
- Context – Stewart Knights (Business) An interactive mobile application that provides a story-based way to learn about cultures across the globe.
Honorable Mention ($2,000 each)
- Golden Gloss Auto Detailing – Matthew Nicholson (Music Education) Luxury automotive detailing.
- Ergo Tech – Zoey Sletterhaugh (Biomedical Engineering) A wearable motion capture device that aims to reduce musculoskeletal workplace injuries.
- PTXtension – Ryan Gudenkauf (Pre-Business) A mobile app aimed at improving patient accountability and boosting the success and cost-effectiveness of physical therapy.
Top Finalists ($10,000 each)
- Apollo Technologies – Jon Lensing (School of Medicine)
- Skilled Day – Megan Zalzala (Venture School Alumni) Scheduling solution allows providers and patients in skilled nursing facilities to access their schedules.
- Trigger Interactive – Tyler Brockel (Venture School Alumni) Manufactures, sells, advanced small arms, live-fire target systems that deliver dynamic firearms training solution at a fraction of cost.
Runner Ups ($5,000 each)
- Dhakai – Russel Karim (Venture School Alumni) B2B apparel sourcing marketplace connects US private labels and retailers to SE Asian apparel manufacturers.
- Goldfinch Health – Brand Newland (College of Pharmacy Alumni) Helps companies save money by empowering employees to better navigate surgery and recovery.
- Theion Agriculture – Justin Carter (Chemistry Alumni) Developing growth promoter that improves crop yields for indoor agriculture, greenhouse ag and traditional row crop farming.
- Speeko – Nico Aguilar (Masters Health Administration and Public Health) Tech startup dedicated to helping people become confident public speakers.
Best Overall Pitch ($2,500)
- Vertical Golfing – Brady Trent (UI Business Consulting Client) eCommerce business in niche of keeping golfers on course for as many years as possible using playing aids.
Thank you to our amazing judges!
- Lance Farrell - Founder and CEO, Farrell's eXtreme Bodyshaping
- Sarah Vigmostad - Associate Professor Biomedical Engineering and Co-Founder SynderBio
- Mitch Silver - Vice President of Engineering, Harman International
- Micky Loening - Managing Director, Beldon Global and Senior Advisor Health, EBRD
- Stan Navrude - Managing Principal Consultant, PRA Advisors
- Lynn Allendorf - Director, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Iowa JPEC is committed to helping students, faculty, staff and community members launch and grow businesses. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think we can be of any assistance. To find out additional information about other opportunities available to students from all areas of study, please visit iowajpec.org.
Congratulations once again to all colleges who had participants in the Iowa Innovation Challenge!