Team VetNex wins Innovation Challenge

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.

For more  information about innovation at UW-River Falls,  email or

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