Boyd Venture Challenge Awards $35,000 to UT Student Startups

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, spring 2016 Boyd Venture Challenge awarded a total of $35,000 to three student startup companies to advance their businesses.

Grow Bioplastics, T&T Scientific, and Treatment Devices were selected from a group of seven finalists. Judges listened to live pitches and decided which companies were most deserving of funding and how much each should receive.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is administered through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.

“We had some top-notch companies competing this semester,” said Tom Graves, operations director of the Anderson Center. “I think the high-tech nature of the winning companies really illustrates how elevated the level of competition was this semester. The judges were extremely impressed with the pitches they heard.”

Grow Bioplastics was awarded $15,000.

The company improves food sustainability by offering farmers and gardeners renewable, biodegradable products that keep oil-based plastics out landfills.

Founded by Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle, both doctoral candidates with UT’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, the company has developed a low-cost renewable biopolymer that naturally degrades in soil and can be used to produce mulch films and planting containers. This allows plants to be sown in their containers and films to be plowed into the ground after harvest, saving growers time and money associated with plastic disposal.

The company plans to use the funding from the Boyd Venture Challenge to build a degradation testing incubator and produce its first round of prototypes.

T&T Scientific was awarded $12,000.

The company, founded by Nima Tamaddoni and Graham Taylor, both recent UT doctoral graduates, has developed the LipX Extruder, the world’s first single-use disposable liposome extruder. Liposome extruders currently on the market require thorough cleaning after each use, costing doctors and researchers valuable time. The LipX Extruder saves users time and money while providing clean and precise results.

T&T Scientific received $20,000 in funding from the Boyd Venture Challenge in fall 2015, which they used to test their final prototypes and begin production of the LipX Extruder. With that product now available for purchase, they plan to use the bulk of the $12,000 they received this semester to develop automated quality control and assembly lines for keeping up with demand. A portion will also be used for marketing.

Treatment Devices was awarded $8,000.

The company, founded by Mark Artz, a Ph.D. candidate in nuclear engineering, specializes in patient setup for radiation therapy and diagnostic imaging.

The company has developed software and a mechanical installation system, called the No Dose Setup, that simplifies patient positioning during radiation therapy. The setup is already available at Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville.

Artz will use the funds to develop a quick installation kit for the system and add additional features to its software.

Since the fund’s inception in 2011, 26 student-owned companies have been awarded a total of $242,000 in seed capital to advance their businesses.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDog brands.

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Anderson Center Announces Working Paper & Research Proposal Competition

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has announced a campus-wide competition for entrepreneurial working papers and research proposals.

ACEI will accept applications in four research categories: doctoral student proposals, doctoral student working papers, faculty proposals, and faculty working papers. Awards range from $800 – $5,000.

“Our goal is to provide early stage funding to launch research that helps entrepreneurs, new ventures, innovations, and entrepreneurial ecosystems succeed,” said Rhonda Reger, ACEI Director of Research.

Now in its third consecutive year, this competition aims to promote and reward meaningful research in entrepreneurship and foster a community of scholars who value innovation. To date, this competition has awarded $12,800 to researchers.

For full details on eligibility and abstracts of past winners, click here.

Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Working Paper & Research Proposal Competition

Who: Full time faculty and doctoral students at the University of Tennessee are eligible. Submissions from doctoral students are judged separately from faculty submissions.

Purpose: The primary goal of this competition is to promote and reward high quality, impactful research in entrepreneurship and innovation that will lead to top tier journal publications. The secondary goal is to foster a community of scholars from across the university who focus at least some of their research attention on the important societal goal of increasing entrepreneurial and innovation success. The final goal is to raise the visibility of UT entrepreneurship and innovation research within academic and practitioner communities.

Scope of Topics: Submissions relating to any topics within entrepreneurship and innovation research are encouraged including research focusing on opportunity recognition, decision-making, new venture creation, founder succession, product design and rapid prototyping, technology transfer and technology commercialization, evaluation of programs designed to improve the success rates of entrepreneurial ventures (e.g., incubators, accelerators, government and NGO funding), venture funding, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Research that focuses on technology entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship in under-represented populations is especially encouraged.   The listed topics are not meant to be exhaustive; research on other related topics is also encouraged. Submissions by teams of faculty and doctoral students across disciplines are encouraged.

Categories and Awards:

  • Doctoral Student Research Proposal: $800 (multiple awards may be awarded)
  • Doctoral Student Working Paper: $1,300 (multiple awards may be awarded)
  • Faculty Research Proposal: $1,000 (multiple awards may be awarded)
  • Faculty Working Paper: $5,000 (one award may be awarded)
  • Special Grants for Research Expenses: These grants may be used to buy datasets, or to collect data: (Up to $5,000 may be awarded to purchase or create datasets that are made available for use by faculty and graduate students. Requests for smaller amounts are encouraged.)
  • In addition to the cash awards, winners will receive opportunities to present their research to the ACEI Research Council for constructive feedback. Some winners may be chosen to present to select entrepreneurs for feedback on the practical relevance of their research.
  • Abstracts of winning proposals and working papers will be highlighted on the ACEI Focus on Research webpage.

Submission Guidelines: 

All submissions should be accompanied by the author(s)’ list of prior publications, conference presentations, prior ACEI awards, and work submitted to conferences and journals in the publication pipeline not to exceed 2 pages per author. Those with extensive publication histories should limit their list of works to the last five years. An individual may submit up to 3 submissions across all categories. Cash awards will be awarded to the first author of any submission to be divided as s/he sees fit within the team.

Research Proposals: Research that has not yet been presented at a conference outside of UT or submitted to a journal or other publication outlet may be submitted. Proposals that were funded in prior years will only be funded again if substantial changes and progress have been made on the research. Research proposals should clearly identify the research question(s), theoretical background and prior research, research model, hypotheses (if appropriate), methodology including sample, data collection and analysis methods, expected contributions to research and practice, and expected timeline to complete the research. A cover page should identify the project title, the researchers, their affiliation, and contact information, target journal(s) for the research, and which category the proposal should be judged within. The cover page should also include a maximum 200 word abstract of the proposed research. Abstracts should be written for a thoughtful practitioner audience (e.g., educated entrepreneurs, policy makers, venture capitalists) and should avoid technical jargon. To compete in the doctoral student category, the first author must be a doctoral student. The body of a research proposal submission should be a maximum 5 pages, single-spaced, 12 pt. font. Up to 5 additional pages may be provided for references, cover page, and exhibits.

Working Papers: Working papers that are not currently under publication review (or accepted for publication) may be submitted including papers that have been presented or accepted for presentation at academic conferences. Working papers resulting from prior proposal grants are encouraged. Working papers should clearly identify the research question(s), theoretical background and prior research, research model, hypotheses (if appropriate), methodology including sample, data collection and analysis methods, contributions to research and practice, and target journal. A cover page should identify the paper title, the researchers, their affiliation, contact information, and which category the working paper should be judged within. The cover page should also include a maximum 200 word abstract. Abstracts should be written for a thoughtful practitioner audience (e.g., educated entrepreneurs, policy makers, venture capitalists) and should avoid technical jargon. To compete in the doctoral student category, the first author must be a doctoral student. Maximum 40 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, inclusive of all appendices, exhibits, tables, cover page, and references.

Special Grants for Research Expenses: A pool of $5,000 will be reserved to provide funding to proposal writers who request concrete research expenses such as to buy a dataset or to collect data. This grant will be paid against actual invoices and will not be a cash payment. If requesting these funds, please include a short description of the funds needed, the nature of the data or other expenses, and a statement about how the expense might benefit other entrepreneurship researchers in the university, for example, that the data will be made available within 6 months to all faculty and doctoral student researchers within UT.

Judging Panel: Academic judges will be drawn from the ACEI Research Council of Faculty who will rate submissions in terms of importance and novelty of the work, theoretical and methodological contributions, and quality and likelihood of publication in top tier journals. The ACEI Executive Director, Lynn Youngs, will rate submissions in terms of practical contributions based on evaluation of abstracts.

Academic judges will be excused from rating proposals submitted by themselves or their doctoral students.

Past Winners: Abstracts of previously funded research may be viewed here.

Submission Deadline: May 23, 2016.

Submit to:

Rhonda Reger

Director of Research, ACEI

rreger@utk.edu

 

The subject line of the email should identify the category of the submission. Please send a separate email for each submission.

Grow Bioplastics Wins Spring 2016 Vol Court Pitch Competition

Winner-sliderGrow Bioplastics, a startup company founded by University of Tennessee students, beat 14 competitors to win the spring 2016 Vol Court Pitch Competition last week. Their product is a biodegradable alternative to the plastic mulch film currently used in agricultural applications.

The Grow Bioplastics team is comprised of Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle, both doctoral candidates with UT’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. They have developed a process based on a patent through Oak Ridge National Lab to produce biodegradable mulch film that is both cost effective and eco-friendly.

Currently black plastic sheeting is used on many farms as a solution for retaining ground moisture and temperature while keeping unwanted weeds out of their fields. It is effective for this purpose, but at the end of the growing season the plastic must be removed and disposed of, creating a significant cost for the farm. Grow Bioplastics’ solution to this problem is to create sheets of biodegradable mulch film made of lignin, a natural waste product of the paper industry. This allows farmers to simply till the film into the ground at the end of the season, saving them the expense of removing it and keeping oil-based plastic products out of the landfill.

Grow Bioplastics is the first repeat winner of the Vol Court Pitch Competition. They first won Vol Court in fall 2014 when pitching a separate product line that they have since expanded upon.

Grow Bioplastics won $1,500, provided by Cirruspath, the presenting sponsor of the Vol Court Pitch Competition. The team will also receive one year of free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of Pershing Yoakley & Associates and legal advice from Morehous Legal Group.

Second place went to Kevin White and Gameday Weekenders, a startup providing UT fans with travel accommodations for away athletic events. White, a senior majoring in business analytics, won $1,000 provided by Cirruspath, 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.

Third place went to mooch, an app that allows individuals to save money by borrowing what they need, and make money by lending what they don’t. The mooch team is comprised of Jared Smith and Kyle Bashour, both seniors majoring in computer science, and Kaleigh Veca, a junior graphic design major. The team was awarded $500 provided by Launch Tennessee.

“The competition was very stiff for Vol Court this semester,” said Tom Graves, director of operations for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “We had more teams competing than ever before, and as a whole, this group of 15 teams was probably the most prepared group we’ve ever had. It was very evident they’d paid attention to this semester’s speakers and put a lot of effort into refining their elevator pitches. Because of that, there was considerable debate when it came time for the judges to select the winners.”

The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the spring 2016 Vol Court Speaker Series. Prior to the competition, teams attended five entrepreneurial lectures covering topics like intellectual property, basic financial statements and opportunity identification.

Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community. It’s made possible through sponsorship from Cirruspath, UT Research Foundation, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates and Morehous Legal Group.

Application Period Open for 2016 Undergraduate Business Plan Competition

powerpoint slideThe application period is now open for the 2016 Undergraduate Business Plan Competition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an annual event that awards cash prizes to promising student startups. The competition is sponsored by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.

The Undergraduate Business Plan Competition is open to any undergraduate student currently enrolled on the Knoxville campus. First, second and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, are awarded in two business categories, growth and lifestyle. It is not required that companies be legally formed to be eligible for this competition.

To apply, a one-page concept statement must be submitted to the Anderson Center no later than midnight Wednesday, March 23. Teams that advance to the presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals Friday, April 1. Interested students should visit http://tiny.utk.edu/UBPC for application guidelines.

Originally launched in 2008, the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition has awarded $150,000 to student entrepreneurs.

Boyd Venture Challenge Accepting Applications Through March 4

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The application period is now open for the Boyd Venture Challenge, a seed fund grant that awards up to $20,000 to student-owned startup companies each fall and spring semester.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is open to any early-stage company owned by a UT student. To be eligible, companies must be legally established and the student owner(s) must be enrolled in a UT undergraduate or graduate degree program in Knoxville at the time of application. Applications must be received by the Anderson Center no later than midnight, Fri., Mar. 4, 2016. Teams that advance to the presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals on Fri., Mar. 25. For full application instructions and eligibility details, click here.

The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, Founder and Executive Chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence and SportDog brands. To date, this endowed fund has awarded $207,000 to 26 student-owned startups.

Vol Court Adds New Topics, Begins Feb. 17

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Now entering its seventh year, the Vol Court Pitch Competition encourages University of Tennessee students, faculty, staff and community members to pitch their business ideas for a chance to win $1,500, space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, and free legal and accounting services.

Vol Court is a six-week entrepreneurial speaker series that culminates in a pitch competition where attendees put what they’ve learned into practice. Based on suggestions from past Vol Court attendees, new topics such as “Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents” have been added to the lineup this semester.

Vol Court has come a long way since it first launched in February 2010. The competition has grown from a single $1,000 award to three cash prizes. Weekly workshops that began with just 20 people now average at least 60 attendees.

“It’s been really exciting to see Vol Court develop,” said Tom Graves, Operations Director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “When we first launched this program back in 2010, we didn’t know quite what to expect. Since then we’ve seen numerous startup ideas come to life and many students choose to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. The success of Vol Court is really indicative of the growing entrepreneurial culture on campus.”

Vol Court meets from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. every Wednesday beginning Feb. 17 in Room 104 of the Haslam Business Building, 1000 Volunteer Blvd. There is no charge to participate and registration is not required. Anyone who participates in the March 30 pitch competition must have attended four of the five series meetings.

The schedule for this semester’s Vol Court series is as follows:

Feb. 17 – Opportunity Identification and Validation

Feb. 24  – Reaching Your Market

Mar. 2 – Basic Financial Statements

Mar. 9 – Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

Mar. 23 – Business Plan Presentation

Mar. 30 – Pitch Competition

Vol Court is a semi-annual event hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Vol Court is made possible by donated funds and services from our sponsors: Cirrus Path, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley and Associates, Morehous Legal Group, and the UT Research Foundation.