University of Utah student Dolly Holt says to imagine squeezing an egg in your fist — it won’t break. The same mechanical concept applies to her invention of a tendon and ligament repair device. The prototype invention won the grand prize and $5,000 in the annual techTITANS Idea Challenge, beating 60 collegiate teams from throughout Utah. Holt’s winning prototype offers a safe, effective alternative to suturing ligament or tendon tears. Her participation this year made her part of the largest techTITANS competition to date, indicating a growing interest in entrepreneurial pursuits among students and underlining the creativity of the state’s younger population.
techTITANS is the first of three competitions in the Utah Entrepreneur Series, a student-run organization that guides students from the idea to implementation phase of business development. It is overseen by the Sorenson Center for Discovery and Innovation at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business.
Holt explained her prototype by asking the audience to imagine crushing a raw egg. “It’s easy to do when you grasp the egg with just two fingers,” she said. “But if you take it in your fist and squeeze, dispersing pressure evenly throughout, the egg will not break. My prototype acts in a similar way, distributing stress equally on the ligament or tendon, preventing tearing and aiding in the healing process.”
The device replaces the need for sutures, offering a means for drastically altering the multi-billion dollar industry revolving around tendon/ligament injuries. Current suturing methods create high stress points, enabling further tears and resulting in pain, increased healing time, and the need for repeat surgeries.
The second place winner was Flex Leg, a BYU team with a prosthetic leg that eliminates the need for crutches. The winner of the greenTITANS Award, given to the team with the most environmentally-responsible device, was Inside & Out Cosmetics, a Westminster College team that developed a means for developing, distributing and selling organic cosmetic products to a global audience.
techTITANS is an annual idea competition open to college students throughout Utah. It offers students the opportunity to win $5,000 for the development of their idea. Teams are judged by the creativity and the potential for implementation of their idea, how “green” the idea is, its potential impact and the likelihood that the judges would buy the product. Finalists are not only awarded prize money, but receive intellectual property consultations as well.
“My ultimate hope is that these students make a lot of money by making people’s lives better,” said Randall Bateman, spokesman for Bateman IP, techTITANS’ primary sponsor.
“techTITANS provides participants with invaluable connections to entrepreneurs, scientists and liaisons that are difficult for students to make on their own. The program offers mentorship, feedback and community support that are necessary to bring an idea into reality,” Holt said. ”Perhaps the most important asset, however, is its support for our ideas and – more importantly – the momentum it provides to drive them forward.”
Many techTITANS entrants, including Holt, will progress to compete in the subsequent two phases of the Utah Entrepreneur Series: Opportunity Quest and the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. Opportunity Quest offers an executive summary competition that is unique to each school. The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge competitively maintains its status among the largest business plan competitions in the nation, rewarding the winner with $40,000 for business startup. For more information on the series, visit www.ues.utah.edu.
Grand Prize Award: Dolly Holt; University of Utah; Tendon/Ligament Ligation Device, designed to replace suturing procedures and decrease recurring injury rates in ligaments and tendons.
Second Place Award: Michael Sanders, Mark Robers; Brigham Young University; FlexLeg, prototype of a prosthetic leg for lower-leg injuries eliminating need for crutches.
Impact Award: Nick Whatcott; Westminster College; Sugar Doodle Kids, an online design platform for pajamas that donates a percentage of profits to starving children.
“I Would Buy It” Award: Dylan Fisher; University of Utah; Merifish Waxaratus, a quick and easy solution to wax application for skis and snowboards.
greenTITAN 1st Place Award: Caitlin Jolley; Westminster; Inside & Out Cosmetics, aimed at developing, distributing, and selling organic cosmetics to worldwide consumers.
greenTITAN 2nd Place Award: Terence Moores, Caleb Kanavel, Emir Hero; University of Utah; SHACH, harnesses solar energy and wasted heat from air conditioning condensers to power water heaters.
greenTITAN 3rd Place Award: Nick Whatcott; Westminster College; Sugar Doodle Kids, an online design platform for pajamas that donates a percentage of profits to starving children.