UWRF Innovation Challenge winners 2019

Innovation Challenge winners at UW-River Falls (left to right) Soren Netka, Jiaxin Li, and Lakshmi Priya Girish Kumar of team Unmanned Ramp Manager, are pictured with Faculty Adviser Marina Onken, CIBD Director Danielle Campeau, and 2019 Innovator in Residence Eric Galler.

Student entrepreneurs advance to Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament

March 19, 2019 - Unmanned Ramp Manager, the business idea of University of Wisconsin-River Falls students Jiaxin Li, Lakshmi Priya Girish Kumar, and Soren Netka, took first place at this year’s Innovation Challenge March 13 on campus.
Unmanned Ramp Manager is an artificial intelligence software program that uses automated license plate detection to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs for parking ramps.
Li, of Shenzhen (Guangdong Providence), China, and Kumar, of Bangalore (Bengaluru), India, are graduate students in the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program, while Netka, of St. Paul, Minn., is an undergraduate taking MSCS level courses. Their team won a $2,000 cash prize and will be advancing to the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, run by the WiSys Technology Foundation, April 13 in Milwaukee.
The Fifth Annual Innovation Challenge welcomed a diverse group of six teams, totaling 11 students representing several different majors and colleges, graduate and undergraduate students. Utilizing the Lean Startup Methodology, students develop their ideas into a viable business model and have ten minutes to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of 20 external partners including business owners, bankers, attorneys, retired business executives, and Eric Galler, the 2019 Spring Innovator in Residence. College of Business and Economics (CBE) Management and Marketing Associate Professor Marina Onken serves as faculty adviser to the competition.
In second place, Wavy Glove, presented by CBE business administration majors Marla Martin and Olivia Martin, both of Stillwater, Minn., is a uniquely designed heated glove to more efficiently achieve a beautiful hairstyle. Taking third place,, presented by MSCS graduate student Thomas Florin, of River Falls, and Jason Florin, industry partner, addresses package theft by creating a secure package delivery system.
The Innovation Challenge is coordinated by UWRF’s Center for Innovation and Business Development (CIBD). 
The winner of the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament will advance on to the International Business Model Competition at Brigham Young University in May.
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