Big business ideas were turned into big prizes Aug. 22-31 as a student team from Virginia Tech won $25,000 for developing exoskeletons to improve lives by making lifting easier.
Grand prize winner Maroon Assistive Technologies, LLC from Virginia Tech, was represented by Tim Pote, Taylor Pesek, Jack Geissinger, and Andrew Bocklund. Their exoskeletons do not use motors or electricity to support your body while you perform your everyday tasks helping to reduce fatigue and decrease the risk of overuse injuries.
Their prize package consisted of the $15,000 Advanced Manufacturing Award for the most outstanding tangible product, and $10,000, as the overall grand prize winner.
The $15,000 Information Technology Award, for the most outstanding service went to team Caressoma, from ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, presented by Sophia Borowka, Jana Maes, and Michelle Koschorke. Innovating with latest medical technology and machine learning, Caressoma is working on a full-fledged solution to prevent sports injuries in high performance sports. With SonIt, they are at the forefront of what can be done for training and team line-up optimization because they quantify the so far unpredictable occurrence and evolution of injuries.
Audience members who attended the Global Entrepreneur Challenge concluded the day by voting for the People’s Choice winner. Team Real42, from Vienna University of Technology, Austria, was the recipient of the $5,000 People’s Choice for their PropTech startup, which enables upgrading floor plans. Within minutes scans and pictures of floor plans are automatically transformed to beautiful visualizations and interactive home staging experiences. Furthermore, Real42 provides access to floor plan metadata, which can be applied to numerous use cases, one of them being real estate valuation. The business concept was presented by Thomas Lechinger, David Neubauer, and Felix Haberl.
Offering $45,000 in cash prizes, the 10th annual Global Challenge was sponsored by Outreach and International Affairs, The Branch Group, Inc., Carilion Clinic, and First Piedmont Corporation. This year’s event included 14 teams and faculty from 12 countries, including Australia, Austria, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United States.
Guru Ghosh, Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs, said the “winning teams pitched ideas that met a societal need with a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace. The Global Challenge reflects a diverse set of problems university students are trying to solve from all over the world.”
The competition was part of a 10-day celebration of student entrepreneurship. Teams were housed by local families, spent interactive time with successful technology companies, and enjoyed fellowship with Virginia Tech students. Some of the activities included tours of the Virginia Tech campus and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, educational workshops, shopping in Roanoke and Blacksburg, and festive meals throughout the event.
Participants also enjoyed regional trips to Newport News, Danville, and Roanoke. In Newport News, attendees went to the Virginia Air & Space Center, Colonial Williamsburg, and heard from an entrepreneurship panel at Tech Center Research Park, sponsored by Newport News Economic Development Authority and W.M. Jordan Company. In Danville, key initiatives and regional strengths in advanced machining and computing skills were showcased at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), sponsored by IALR, Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and The Launch Place. Finally, in Roanoke, Carilion Clinic/Virginia Tech Carilion, hosted a panel and tour highlighting the innovation, research, and advances made in health care and the transformative impact they’ve had in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Southwest Virginia regions.
“It’s an honor to provide these young entrepreneurs a platform to test their ideas on a world stage and support them with resources and a new global network of connections as they aspire to take their ideas to market,” said Lindsey Eversole, Virginia Tech Global Program Manager.
The event also provided the opportunity for global faculty and staff members to participate in Virginia Tech’s Annual Roundtable to build networks, collaborate, and exchange information and best practices on their university’s entrepreneurship support programs.
Other event sponsors include:
- Apex Center for Entrepreneurs
- College of Engineering
- Newport News Economic Development Authority
- Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation
Program support sponsors include:
- Automation Creations, Inc.
- City of Roanoke
- Click & Pledge
- J. Hopkins, Inc.
- LewisGale Regional Health System
- Montgomery County Department of Economic Development
- Plastics One
- SunTrust Bank
- Tech Center Research Park at Newport News
- Town of Blacksburg
- Virginia Tech College of Science
- Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center
- VPT, Inc.
- M. Jordan Company
- Wordsprint Marketing Services