At a time when innovation and sustainability are needed more than ever, on April 10 six student teams from Allegany County’s three schools of higher education pitched their innovative business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes.
Startup Allegany recognized the entrepreneurial-minded undergraduates from Houghton College, Alfred State College, and Alfred University who spent weeks preparing pitches that demonstrated their commitment to sustainability – finding solutions to today’s problems without compromising tomorrow’s resources.
“This first Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition was a showcase of talent with the goal of keeping students and their ideas in the county,” said Dr. Craig Clark, Vice President of Economic Development at Alfred State College and Executive Director of the Allegany County IDA. “The competition promotes entrepreneurship as a career choice, connecting students with mentors from the business community who help them take their idea and work through a viable business plan. Entrepreneurs play an important role in building thriving communities by fostering a resilient ecosystem and driving innovation; engaging our college students is important to developing the county.”
Just as startups may need to pitch their business plan to investors, the students pitched to a panel of judges, all entrepreneurs themselves. The merit and scholarship of the participants was obvious by the high caliber of their presentations. With 14 mentors, three judges, Alfred University’s IT staff helming the event production, faculty and staff from the Startup Allegany partners, and months of planning, the event was no easy feat but nevertheless went off without a hitch.
First place winner with a prize of $5,000 was Think Orange AgTech from Houghton College, with team members Stephen Harper, major in Business, and Micah Condie, major in Physics & Computer Science. The team combined Stephen’s business acumen with Micah’s knowledge and experience in drone technology to provide small farmers with big data solutions. These innovative data solutions will help maximize crop yield and build a sustainable future in Allegany County and beyond.
Second place winner with a prize of $1,000 was Innovere from Alfred University, with team members Aiden LaCourse, major in Glass Science Engineering; Tajmaleeak Beckett, major in Business; Zach Gloskin, major in Business Administration. This team combined Aiden’s knowledge in glass science with Tajmaleeak and Zach’s business acumen to create a business plan for an unbreakable, anti-microbial glass drinking straw.
Third place winner with a prize of $500 was Triboelectric Nanogenerator Mask from Alfred State College, with team members Brady Miller, major in Mechanical Engineering Technology; Samantha Barker, major in Mechanical Engineering Technology. This team has developed electronic protective masks which generate energy from talking using triboelectric nanogenerators. The energy generated is used to power an embedded temperature sensor that is continuously monitoring the body’s temperature. This tells the person if they have a fever as a symptom of coronavirus.
The competition was broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube with over 250 viewers. Viewers were invited to vote for the Viewer’s Choice award; Think Orange AgTech also won this award for an additional $100 in prize money.
“The Startup Allegany partners that met weekly for months to plan and promote this competition were instrumental in making it a success!” said Ashleigh Madison, Program Director for IncubatorWorks and project manager for the competition. “We are thankful for the sponsors who stepped up with substantial cash prizes and professional IT support. The competition was fierce, and the level of professionalism and the quality of pitches was an indication of the seriousness by which the students approached this challenge. It was an exciting day for Allegany County and a big congratulations to the winners!”
Stephen and Micah from Think Orange AgTech added, “We thank Incubator Works and everyone responsible for making the first-ever Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition a reality. It was an honor and a privilege to participate in such an incredible event.”
The event and the prize money were made possible through the generous sponsorship of Sealing Devices, Inc., the College of Business at Alfred University, and the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) at Alfred University.
Dr. John Simmins, Executive Director of the CACT said, “The CACT was thrilled to be a sponsor for the first Start-Up Allegany Collegiate Competition. Our County’s entrepreneurial ecosystem benefits from having three institutions of higher education, as well as an established venture creation program at IncubatorWorks. This program provides critical support for students to start thinking entrepreneurially, hopefully leading to the creation of new businesses that stay in the area. Success will lead to more success, and I’m eager to see this years’ winners more fully develop their businesses as a model for future student-led startups.”
Added Simmins, “One of the goals of the CACT is to support workforce development opportunities for our students. This program does that and more. Not only do students gain invaluable experience in starting a business, if they are successful, these businesses represent jobs for graduates and other residents from across the region.”
All student participants have been invited to take advantage of IncubatorWork’s mentoring and programing to continue building out their business plan. Participants were also invited to move on to the 12th annual Capital Region Business Plan Competition. The top two winning teams in each track at the regional level will represent the Capital Region at the New York Business Plan Competition May 7.