Central Michigan University (CMU) and Michigan Tech collaborate each year to offer Michigan Tech students a chance to compete in CMU’s New Venture Challenge (NVC). This showcase event provides an opportunity for students at both universities to present their businesses and network with prospective investors, mentors and partners. Student participants at NVC compete for a total of $60,000 in prizes and in-kind services.
On Friday (April 22), four Michigan Tech student teams pitched their ideas and businesses in person at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Michigan Tech Husky Innovate co-director Jim Baker and program manager Lisa Casper attended the event to support teams, as well as strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship connections.
Students had an opportunity to compete in either the two-minute pitch competition or the seven-minute business model competition. There was also a gallery competition, where teams had tables with individual displays and took questions from attendees.
The competition took place out of town during the last hectic week of spring semester at Michigan Tech. But in the end, all their hard work paid off: Michigan Tech teams brought home $21K in prizes for their ideas.
“Congratulations to our Husky Innovate student teams—your ideas have the potential to change the world.”
Michigan Tech’s New Venture Challenge award winners:
Two-Minute Pitch Competition
- Jakob Christiansen (construction management) won first place and received $4,000. Christiansen pitched “ProBoard,” an e-commerce platform to solve issues in the construction material supply chain.
Seven-Minute Pitch Competition
- Bayle Golden (engineering management) won first place in the Social Mission category and received $10,000. Golden pitched “SafeRow,” an innovative wearable device designed to keep children safe when every second counts.
- Rourke Sylvain and Ali Dabas (both biomedical engineering) won second place in the High Tech High Growth category, receiving $5,000. Their pitch was “imi (integrated molecular innovations),” an electrochemical biosensor for T4 detection.
- Jordan Craven (management information systems, minoring in computer science) won third place in the High Tech High Growth category and received $2,000. Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a technology company that provides software as a service to retailers who sell clothes online.
“The results speak to the tireless efforts of our students—and the impact of the programs provided by Husky Innovate and its partners.”
In preparing for the New Venture Challenge, Michigan Tech students participated in a number of Husky Innovate workshops and review sessions. They also benefited from resources and expertise available within MTEC SmartZone, the local state-funded technology business incubator, and the Upper Peninsula Regional Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by Michigan Tech’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization in collaboration with the College of Business.
“Thanks go out to our distributed team of mentors and our sponsors at Michigan Tech, including the Pavlis Honors College, Office of Innovation and Commercialization, College of Business, College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil Engineering,” said Casper. “We also thank Central Michigan University, and especially Julie Messing, director of the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, for the collaboration and congenial hospitality.”