The West Virginia University IDEA Hub and LaunchLab Network today co-hosted the first “I Heart IDEA Hub Pitch Challenge” to provide students, faculty, staff and community members who utilize any of the IDEA Hub’s services the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and compete for cash prizes to further develop their innovations.
Thirteen individuals and teams pitched their innovations in three minutes to a group of esteemed judges from across West Virginia, followed by the judging panel’s question and answer period.
The top three teams took home a share of the $2,500 prize money to help advance and develop their innovations.
Kyle Gillis and James Carnes, seniors in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources representing the LaunchLab, won first prize for their company, ICONIC EDU LLC, which is an EdTech company that develops technology-focused STEM kits that help students begin thinking more like scientists and engineers.
“With such a robust and dynamic culture of innovation, design and entrepreneurship across all WVU campuses, the IDEA Hub is charged with connecting individuals to the vast network of colleges, units and programs that offer services to help develop, advance and commercialize their innovations in the classroom, in the laboratories and beyond,” said Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Dr. Carrie White. “We are excited that this pitch competition provides the unique opportunity to bring some of our greatest innovators across campus together under one roof at the same time to showcase each other’s’ work while networking and celebrating WVU’s entrepreneurial and innovative mindset.”
The panel of judges included: Chelsea Betts, marketing specialist at Huntington Bank; Benjamin Gleitzman, chief technical officer of Network Awesome; Mike Green, managing director of Mountain State Capital; Michele O’Connor, board member, treasurer and chair of TechConnect West Virginia; and Guy Peduto, director of Innova Commercialization.
Huntington Bank sponsored the cash rewards, working alongside the IDEA Hub to advance innovation throughout the state.
“It’s a privilege to sponsor today's pitch competition. Huntington Bank believes that developing relationships and investing in local organizations like WVU's LaunchLab Network and the IDEA Hub build healthy and vibrant communities,” said Chelsea Betts. “Encouraging some of WVU’s most innovative individuals to develop their ideas so that they may one day contribute to local economies will ultimately help improve the self-sufficiency and quality of life in the communities across West Virginia served by Huntington.”
Competitors in the “I Heart IDEA Hub Pitch Challenge” included:
· SECOND PLACE (TIED): Logan Demyon, a John Chambers School of B&E student representing the BrickStreet Center, tied for second place with his idea of OpticFX, which combines both state-of-the-art and existing technologies to create a completely digital synthetic field. Their technology allows for endless customization that is only limited by one’s imagination.
· SECOND PLACE (TIED): Cameron Keefe, a John Chambers School of B&E Student representing the LaunchLab, tied for second place with her product, ThermoRoller, which is a modified athletic roller that changes temperature to relieve and relax sore muscle pain after exertion.
· THIRD PLACE: Valerie Slone, Megan Govindan and Michaela Gavigan, Davis students from the Evansdale Innovation Center, won third place for their product Conscious Heat, which is a closed loop, sustainable model for feeding hungry West Virginians, supporting West Virginia farmers and cultivating community in Appalachia.
· Sergiy Yakovenko, a staff member representing The Health Sciences Innovation Center presenting his novel use of metrics in robotic heart surgery.
· David Willis, a community member representing WV Hive with his innovation, Step Alert
· Robert Peyton Jr, a community member from WV Hive, featuring his innovation ATV TOTE.
The WVU IDEA Hub is a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. By showcasing the vast network of resources and opportunities across the University, the IDEA Hub elevates an integrated web of WVU’S entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who are applying entrepreneurship and innovation to solve problems and embrace change toward more innovation, growth and resiliency across West Virginia.
The LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU IDEA Hub and serves as the comprehensive, one-stop shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models.