UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
March 16, 2017-- MBA students David and Jennifer Till won the Third Annual Innovation Challenge March 2 at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Their idea, VetNex, is a software that aids in veteran's disability claims processing.
Three teams competed for the prize of $6,000. As the winner, VetNex automatically advances to the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament on April 22 with the opportunity to win up to $27,000. All three teams will be submitting to both the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament and to the International Business Model Competition at-large rounds, with submissions due over the next couple weeks.
The Innovation Challenge is student competition in which undergraduate and graduate students explore the possibility of turning their business ideas into reality. Utilizing the Lean Startup Methodology, students develop their ideas into a viable business model and present them to a panel of judges made up of community and business leaders. Management and Marketing Associate Professor Marina Onken is adviser to the competition.
The other two teams competing were: AgSpy, the idea of agricultural engineering major Nathaniel Wenner, using drones in precision agriculture to identify pests affecting plants, and Chell Co. with collaborators Kathleen Miller-Chell, a computer science major, and Katelyn Bares, a political science major. Chell Co. hopes to produce The Study Buddy, a highlighter and pen combo with inks that will fade over time, making it possible to highlight and take notes in textbooks, without having the books lose resale value.
AGS Data Systems, WiSys Technology Foundation and the Small Business Development Center at UW-River Falls sponsored this year’s Innovation Challenge.
The Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament (WBIT) is an entrepreneurship competition open to undergraduate and graduate students attending any two- or four-year University of Wisconsin school, except UW-Madison. It teaches cutting-edge Lean Startup business development tools, provides business mentorship, and allows participants to compete at a state level for a chance to win seed funding for their idea as well as a chance to compete internationally at the 2017 International Business Model Competition (IBMC) May 11-12 in Mountain View, Calif. The IBMC hosts student competitors from universities all over the world. The top prize is $30,000.
At the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge this year, five middle school entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce presented their ideas to the judges. They also received advice from the judges and had an opportunity to ask questions. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is managed by Eric Wenz, the original winner of UW-River Falls Innovation Challenge.