The agriculture and healthcare sectors are among the largest in Arkansas and both fields led to winners in the 2020 Arkansas Governor’s Competition, which was held virtually on Thursday (April 9).
Immunosense, from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, was both the overall undergraduate division winner and the undergraduate team winner for innovation.
Immunosense is a diagnostics company that specializes in the early detection of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) via testing implemented though in-vitro diagnostics tools, which are non-invasive tests using blood or other bodily samples. Tests analyze newly discovered biomarkers that are present before full, clinical onset of T1D.
CelluDot, representing the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, addresses the growing problem of agrochemical drift with a novel biopolymer technology that keeps pesticides and herbicides at the site of their intended use, preventing farmers from incurring financial losses due to crop damage and curbing the negative implications of drift on human health and the environment.
CelluDot captured first place in both the overall undergraduate division and the innovation division.
These winners and the second and third place teams will receive a school trophy and major cash awards from Governor’s Cup Title Sponsor Dhu Thompson. Winners and cash prizes were announced Thursday (March 9) in each division.
Simmons Bank Undergraduate Division
First Place – Immunosense, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia – $25,000
Second Place – Bio Precision, Harding University, Searcy – $15,000
Third Place – Never Cargo, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville – $10,000
Walton Family Foundation Graduate Division
First Place – CelluDot, University of Arkansas/Fayetteville – $25,000
Second Place – T.I.B.N., University of Arkansas/Fayetteville – $15,000
Third Place – Face-to-Face, University of Arkansas Little Rock – $10,000
In addition to these overall team awards, faculty advisors for each team win $2,000.
Innovate Arkansas and Winrock Automotive Innovation Division
Graduate Winner – CelluDot, University of Arkansas/Fayetteville – $5,000
Undergraduate Winner – Immunosense, Ouachita Baptist University – $5,000
The Governor’s Cup is presented by Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC) of Little Rock, which launched the first competition 20 years ago. According to ACC Chief Executive Officer Rush Deacon, ACC staff would not have expected to have to derail the 20th anniversary awards luncheon plans because of a pandemic.
“This was quite the experience this year. Hats off to everyone – the students, faculty, judges, Gov. Hutchinson, and today’s livestream presenters for enabling us to finish out this competition. Pandemic circumstances forced the competitors to pivot at the last minute, taking them out of the comfort of a known process, and forcing them to show to the judges that they could pull it off … experiencing another dimension in the real world of business. Our congratulations go to the winners, of course, but special congratulations go to all the competitors for their flexibility and passion,” Deacon said.
In the competition, team members are required to have management positions in the company. Teams were judged in several areas, including identification of the problems in the marketplace and how their business ideas will solve them, demonstrations of customer discovery and validation to prove viability of ideas and revealing what was learned from customer research, identification of potential competitors in the marketplace, explanations of how marketing and distribution will be addressed, addressing possible critical risks to the businesses. They must also identify the management positions team members will hold and explain the qualifications they have to make them suitable for those roles.
Thirty-eight teams from nine universities across Arkansas entered the 2020 Governor’s Cup, impacting 92 students. More than 50 volunteers from across Arkansas served as judges for the competition.