UA entrepreneurial teams sweep top spots in business plan competition

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 249 views 

Entrepreneurial teams from the University of Arkansas won five of six categories at the recently completed 2014 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

LumaDrop, a team from the University of Arkansas that has developed a plan to commercialize an eye drop for macular degeneration, took the $25,000 first place prize Wednesday in the graduate division at the competition.

LumaDrop led a UA sweep of the top three places in the graduate division in the 14th annual competition. DataVis finished second and won $15,000. HemaNotics was third and took home $10,000.

DataVis, which is developing image-recognition software that simplifies and speeds up the inventory auditing process of retail store shelves, also won $5,000 for winning the graduate innovation category and $2,000 for taking first in the graduate elevator pitch competition.

HemaNotics has developed a plan to improve the accuracy with which doctors can assign dosages of the anticoagulant prescription drug warfarin, saving both lives and money.

BioBotic Solutions – a UA undergraduate team – took the second-place in the undergraduate completion, claiming the prize of $15,000 and also won $5,000 for winning the undergraduate innovation competition and $2,000 for winning the undergraduate elevator pitch. BioBotic Solutions has developed a plan to commercialize a container and robot that automate tissue handling, one of the few areas in a pathology lab that is not already automated.

The UA has won the graduate division at the Governor’s Cup 11 consecutive years, and placed the top three teams in the graduate division in four of the last five years.
This year, 36 teams submitted business plans from 13 colleges and universities from across Arkansas for a chance to win a share of the $154,000 prize pool. Prizes in the competition were awarded at a luncheon at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. 

LumaDrop, DataVis and BioBotic Solutions will now compete against the top two graduate and undergraduate teams from Nevada and Oklahoma for the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Award on May 23 in Las Vegas.

DataVis and Biobotic Solutions will also both be competing in Texas this weekend: DataVis at the Rice University Business Plan Competition in Houston and BioBotic Solutions at the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Under the guidance of Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship, the university has fielded competitive graduate student teams at state, regional, national and international business plan competitions since 2002. During the past decade, students have won nearly $2 million in cash at these competitions. 

Reeves was honored at the luncheon with the C. Sam Walls Entrepreneur Educator Award, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to honor Walls for his commitment to entrepreneurial education in Arkansas. She received a $2,500  and $2,500 was awarded to the U of A for use in its furtherance of entrepreneurial education.

LumaDrop’s team includes:
• Neil Bora, a third-year student in the School of Law
• Randy Espinal Cabrera, a doctoral student in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
• Joe Huff, an M.B.A student in the Sam M. Walton College of Business
• Brad Phelan, an M.B.A. student in Walton College

DataVis finished second in February at the 2014 Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition at Kennesaw State University. Three students in the executive Master of Business Administration program in the Walton College constitute DataVis:
• Mike Finan
• Jason Kohrig
• Justin Urso

The HemaNotics warfarin plan is significant because it is extremely challenging to  determine the correct dosage for warfarin, due to a narrow therapeutic range and high variation in each individual’s response to the drug based on genetics, metabolic rates, race and age.
HemaNotics’ team includes:
• Scott Andrews, an M.B.A. student in Walton College
• Andrew Boehm, an executive M.B.A. student in Walton College
• Jackie Frentz, a master of accountancy student in Walton College

All three teams formed in the New Venture Development graduate course taught by Reeves, holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Walton College.

BioBotic Solutions developed its plan in close cooperation with the U of A’s department of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. Reeves and Jeff Amerine, who directs Technology Ventures, the U of A’s technology transfer office, co-advised the team. Maria Driesel, a graduate student from Germany who is taking classes at the U of A, also assisted in advising BioBotic Solutions.
BioBotic Solutions includes:
• Rachel Zweig, who is majoring in chemistry and mathematics at Hendrix College
• Michael Iseman, a senior finance major in Walton College and an Honors College student
• Kelley Coakley, a senior biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering