Tuesday, December 1, 2020

On November 16-18, the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) had the privilege of virtually hosting the first phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge, the Elevator Pitch Competition. This competition will help bring over $225,000 in total funding to be awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year across the University of Iowa’s campus. The Challenge is a university-wide competition open to all UI faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and incubator startups. A total of 84 businesses pitched their ideas as a part of the first phase of the competition. $75,350 was awarded to the most innovative and entrepreneurial ideas across campus.

All participants submitted an application with their company name and description and the top 25 ideas from each category were selected to pitch to a panel of judges over Zoom. On November 18, the winners and award amounts were announced at the Iowa Innovation Challenge Awards Webinar. Attendees also heard from 2020 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year, Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder and Chairperson of MeetUp.

Congratulations to all the winners of the first phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge!

Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and Incubator Startup Award Winners

  • 1st Place, $20,000 | Hawkeye Surgical Lights – David Christianson (Graduate Student)
    • The novel invention of a surgical illumination system that utilizes fluorescent visualization of brain and spine tumors intraoperatively
  • 2nd Place, $10,000 | Iowa Simulation Solutions – Steven Long (Staff)
    • Designs and manufactures surgical simulators to train orthopedic surgeons on key skills
  • 3rd Place, $5,000 | Theion Agriculture – Ned Bowden (Faculty)
    • Developing fertilizer additives (called SUPRGrow) that will increase the rate of growth of leafy greens grown in indoor farms across the world
  • 4th Place, $3,000 | Support Sling – Erin Pisarik (Staff)
    • A product is designed for Congestive Heart failure patients who are experiencing moderate to severe scrotal swelling/edema
  • 5th Place, $2,000 | Night Light – Aaron Boes (Faculty)
    • A novel technology that involves delivering flickering light and concurrent clicking sound at a specified frequency, which together entrains brain rhythms to help sleep quality.
Best Pitch
  • $1,000 | Serenity House – Sue Gardner (Faculty)
    • A safe living environment for women recovering from substance abuse
Best Social Impact
  • $2,000 | Inclusive Pharmacy Solutions – Grace Kin (Graduate Student)
    • A web platform to translate pharmacy information into Swahili
Judges Choice
  • 1st, $5,000 | NanoMedtrix – Joe Assouline and Sean Sweeney (Incubator Startup)
    • A biotech company developing advanced nanomaterials in the cure for specific forms of cancer and major diseases
  • 2nd (tie), $1,000 | 3D Dental – Amira Elgreatly (Faculty) and Ahmed Mahrous (Faculty)
    • Developing 3D models and a web-based application for dental education
  • 2nd (tie), $1,000 | UpStream Healthcare Innovations – Colten Stewart (Staff)
    • A novel application programming interface (API) that integrates with the electronic healthcare record (EHR) and allows for more efficient and effective monitoring and communication with high-risk patients.

Undergraduate Student Award Winners

Best Technology
  • 1st Place, $5,000 | PTXtension – Ryan Gudenkauf (Pre-Business and Pre-Physical Therapy)
    • A mobile-based app to connect physical therapists to their patients
  • 2nd Place, $2,500 | Fantastikk Marketing Insights – Blake Quarrie (Accounting), Andrew Gippert, and James Trainor
    • A service that provides professional sports teams with the software and tools to collect more advanced data on their fans’ spending behavior inside the venue
  • 3rd Place, $1,000 | WeReceipt – Michael Dankanich (Economics), Adrian Tibrea (Computer Science), and Chris Tibrea (Accounting)
    • A mobile app that creates a digital itemized receipt after each purchase that is stored locally on a user’s cell phone and in the cloud
Best Non-Technology
  • 1st Place (tie), $3,000 | Benedict’s Basket – Anaze Benedict (Psychology)
    • Makes it easy to buy and sell locally sourced products from the comfort of your own home
  • 1st Place (tie), $3,000 | B&L Innovation – Thomas Bruno (Industrial Engineering)
    • A candle-blowing device to help stop the spread of germs and viruses
  • 2nd Place, $1,500 | Skunk Aid – Nicole Relias (Marketing)
    • An all-in-one natural de-skunking kit for dogs
  • 3rd Place, $750 | Always in Season – Lane Dethrow (Accounting and Marketing Analytics) and Brittany Caskey
    • Affordable, handmade, one-of-a-kind clothing pieces for college students
  • 4th Place, $350 | Johs & Son – Adam Johs (Enterprise Leadership)
    • Lawn care company in Iowa City
Best Pitch
  • 1st Place, $1,000 | Lend-A-Hand – Kristoff Poole (Entrepreneurial Management)
    • A platform to help the homeless
Best Social Impact
  • 1st Place, $1,000 | Re/Fuse – Blake Quarrie (Accounting)
    • A subscription-based compost collections service
  • 2nd Place, $500 | Lend-A-Hand – Kristoff Poole (Entrepreneurial Management)
    • A platform to help the homeless
  • 3rd Place, $250 | Spectacle Origin – Thuy Nguyen (Biochemistry)
    • An e-commerce platform that allows patients to search for glasses at an 85% or higher prescription match.
Best Lifestyle/Retail Business
  • 1st Place, $1,000 | Sonder – Zach Frisbie (Entrepreneurial Management)
    • A contemporary clothing company that provides statement pieces allowing people to express themselves
  • 2nd Place, $500 | Golden Gloss Auto Detailing – Matthew Nicholson (Music Education/Saxophone Performance)
    • Expert, luxury mobile automotive detailing
  • 3rd Place, $250 | Downsizing Professionals – Joe Jensen (Finance)
    • Home downsizing services to clients aged 55-85
Keith A Starman Entrepreneurship Award | Sponsored by the Starman Family
  • $1,250 | Benedict’s Basket – Anaze Benedict (Psychology)
    • Makes it easy to buy and sell locally sourced products from the comfort of your own home.
  • $1,250 | AMPP Ventilation -  Kailey Fellner(Biomedical), Marissa Mueller, Bennett Cournoyer, and Levi Amstutz
    • COVID-19 barrier solution for first responders
Judges Choice
  • $500 | NamaFre – Mitchell Kabenda (Global Health Studies)
    • Designs and markets affordable, trendy clothing made from East African Kikoyi fabric
  • $500 | Sheets That Fit – Nicole Majerus (Economics)
    • A product that ensures your sheets stay in place throughout the night
  • $250 | EZ Student Ticket Swap – Jonathan Gray (Pre-Business)
    • An app and website that allows for the process of transferring student tickets
Thank you to our judges!
  • Al Bunte
  • Nick Rhodes
  • Randy Rings
  • Lynn Allendorf
  • Ken Buckman
  • Larry Van Steenhuyse
  • Julie Lammers
  • Mark Krzmarzick
  • Krista Brown
  • Kris Kroona