Grow Bioplastics and their lignin-based plastic and rubber materials took first place at the Fall 2014 Vol Court Pitch Competition on Tues, Oct. 28, beating out four other potential startups for the top prize.
Jeff Beegle and Tony Bova, both UT Energy Science & Engineering Ph.D. candidates and graduate research fellows of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, pitched their startup idea centered on developing innovative, high-performance plastic and rubber materials based on lignin to a panel of local judges. Other members of the Grow Bioplastics team are Missy Showers and Robert Brese, also UT Energy Science & Engineering Ph.D. candidates and Bredesen Center Fellows. The team won $1,000 provided by UT Federal Credit Union, as well as one year of free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and legal advice courtesy of Morehous Legal Group.
Second place went to Knoxville-area entrepreneur Michael Bowie and Barboards, a company providing low cost advertising on coasters at bars and restaurants. He won $500 provided by Launch Tennessee, as well as six months of free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and legal advice from Morehous Legal Group.
“We were very impressed by the quality of the pitches this year,” said Tom Graves, Director of Operations for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “All of the business ideas presented were excellent. The teams really took what they learned from the Vol Court speakers and applied it to their business models, which is exactly what we want to see happening.”
The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the Fall 2014 Vol Court Speaker Series. Prior to pitching, teams attended five entrepreneurial lectures covering aspects of the Business Model Canvas.
Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty and staff as well members of the local community, and made possible through sponsorship from the UT Federal Credit Union, UT Research Foundation, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and Morehous Legal Group.