Innovation Challenge Seed Pitch Spurs Student Teams
December 09, 2015
On December 2nd, after pitching ideas for business ventures to an industry-based panel of judges, seven student teams received $10.5K in seed money and strategic advice for their future participation in UMass Amherst’s Innovation Challenge. At the event, five additional teams garnered advice and encouragement for moving their own ventures forward in the two-semester competition.
“The seed pitch is a new round in the Innovation Challenge—UMass Amherst’s annual student business plan competition”— explained management professor William Wooldridge. The Isenberg professor is executive director of Isenberg’s Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, which coordinates the ten-year-old Challenge. “We introduced the new phase to elevate and accelerate the larger event’s already high level of competition. The seed pitch includes mentoring, workshops, and targeted financial seeding,” he noted.
And the winners are. . .
At the daylong seed-pitch session, GeneRisk, a team headed by Ajay Kumar (pictured right), a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, netted $5,000 in seed funding. GeneRisk has developed a searchable data base that allows clinicians to match symptoms (accompanied by a saliva sample) to genetic conditions and their variants.
The judges also awarded $2,000 to the team, Glow, which aspires to improve contextual awareness in network management and troubleshooting. And they distributed two awards of $1,000 and three awards of $500.
The judges encouraged all twelve teams to redouble their efforts for the Challenge’s semifinal round, in March. That is when selected student teams, in an investor boardroom climate, will present their business concepts to a panel of industry judges, who will select five finalists for the Final Shark Tank Competition, in April. At that culminating event, the teams will compete for more than $50k in prizes and receive added mentorship and business acceleration opportunities for their ventures and their ultimate success in the marketplace.