Isenberg Contestants Thrive in Business Plan Competition

April 24, 2012

Plate Technologies, with Isenberg team member Anshuli Patil '12 MBA/MPP and Sangram S. Parelkar, a postdoctoral research associate in polymer science and engineering, has won second place in the campus-wide business plan competition, The Innovation Challenge. For its second-place finish in a field of five finalists, the team was awarded $14,000 by a panel of expert judges at the competition's final event on April 14. The judges awarded more than $52,000 in seed capital to four of the five teams.


Plate Technologies is developing microplates that will improve the precision of cell culture assays by removing basic handling and operational errors. With multiple "wells" that serve as small test tubes, microplates have become a standard tool in analytical research and clinical diagnostic testing laboratories.


Sneakers for Success, a second team with Isenberg and other UMass Amherst students, won three prizes in the competition. The team's honors included $3,000 from the competition's judges, a $250 Audience Choice prize, and the $5,000 David Wolf Prize, a first-time award sponsored by the intellectual property law firm of Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C. The Wolf prize recognizes entrepreneurship combined with a spirit of caring.


Sneakers for Success, a nonprofit start-up, deploys "urban sneaker culture" to involve inner city teenagers in project-based learning. In the classroom, inner city students create their own sneakers while learning and applying math, engineering, design, and teamwork skills. They also study the milieu and history of sneaker culture. The student team includes marketing major Abigail Richardson '13, McCormack Sport Management graduate Joshua Hernandez '11, project founder Samuel de Pillar '12 (Mechanical Engineering), and several other UMass Amherst students.


Founded in 2005 with support from Eugene Isenberg '50 and others, the Innovation Challenge fosters interdisciplinary education that combines entrepreneurship, science, and technology. In a series of events, including an elevator pitch competition in the fall and an extended business plan competition in the spring, students from Isenberg team up with counterparts from other colleges on campus. For Isenberg students, the Challenge encompasses a wealth of skills: entrepreneurship, resilient leadership, teamwork, and technological literacy.


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