A team from the University of Utah with a bionic arm for ultrasound clinicians won the annual techTitans idea competition earlier this month. Teams from across the state competed in the competition at the U of U. The winning teams survived several rounds of judging by local professors and business professionals who evaluated the merit of their ideas.
“This is an important competition because it inspires students to put their ideas to the test,” said Ben France, the student chair for techTitans and an MBA student at the University of Utah. “Many of these ideas would never be developed if we didn’t have a competition like this. I’ve been involved with this competition for several years, and I’m astounded at the students’ creativity and ingenuity.”
The grand prize winner, UltraArm, earned $5,000 for their efforts. The team is composed of mechanical engineering students at the U of U. Their invention is a piece of medical equipment meant to aid ultrasound clinicians. It is a motorized arm with a full range of motion that supports a clinician’s arm during repetitive motions and helps decrease shoulder injury.
“The techTitans competition was an exciting experience for our whole team,” said BJ Minson, an UltraArm team member. “It was a great bridge to take our idea to the next level with mentors providing feedback and professionals critiquing our work. It brings all the right people together, and you couldn’t ask for a better platform to get a jumpstart on great ideas. Competing in techTitans has given us the confidence to push forward and start our own company.”
Another top team was Seed, a team of U of U students who captured the Global Impact award worth $2,500 and a new Green Titans award worth $500. Their idea is to create a company to help rid the world of slums by providing architectural designs for low-cost, usable, clean, environmentally and family-centered living areas. These homes will be built in the place of slums and provide a brighter future for the poor in developing countries.
Other top teams included NeuroRes, a U of U team with software for interpreting Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data; UpperCase, a Brigham Young University team with an innovative system for optimizing storage space; Fosters Five a Day, a U of U team with a program for helping foster kids; and Athletic Bamboo Wear, a U of U team that proposes making clothing out of bamboo fibers.
In addition to money, the techTitans finalists received intellectual property consultations donated by local law firms Stoel Rives and Thorpe North and Western.
“TechTitans provides a unique opportunity for college students,” said Shirlayne Quayle, the techTitans advisor and the director of the Sorenson Innovation Center at the University of Utah. “This organization provides students with an opportunity to present their ideas, and many of them become viable businesses and initiatives. UltraArm, for example, is already taking the next steps to commercialize their invention.”
Many of the winners at techTitans will advance to compete in two related statewide business competitions at the University of Utah. Students first compete in an executive summary business plan competition at Opportunity Quest, then they face each other for a chance to win $40,000 at the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
2010 techTitans winners
Grand prize award – UltraArm, University of Utah, $5,000. UltraArm is a piece of medical equipment meant to aid ultrasound clinicians. It is a motorized arm with a full range of motion that supports a clinician’s arm during repetitive motions and helps decrease shoulder injury.
Global impact award – Seed, University of Utah, $2,500. Seed is a company that hopes to help rid the world of slums by providing architectural designs for low-cost, usable, clean, environmentally and family-centered living areas. These homes will be built in the place of slums and provide a brighter future for the poor in developing countries.
Humanitarian award – NeuroRes, University of Utah, $500. This is software that interprets data from MRIs to detect autism at an early age so correct treatment and action can be taken.
“We’d buy it” award – UpperCase, Brigham Young University, $500. This is a consumer product meant to bring further order/cleanliness to garages, homes spaces and kitchens by installing shelves in previously unused space above or in tight spots. The shelves are mounted on a hydraulic arm that helps raise the heavy shelves up above or in previously unused areas and out of the way.
2010 Green Titan winners
First Place – Seed, University of Utah, $500. (See above for description)
Second Place – Fosters Five a Day, University of Utah, $300. Fosters is a plan to help children coming out of foster care to start out right. It is a program that educates foster children about good work ethic and business practices by giving them the opportunity to grow and harvest organic vegetables. The produce will be sold in a market to the highest bidders and all proceeds will go to mentoring and teaching the foster children.
Third Place – Athletic Bamboo Wear, University of Utah, $200. This is an idea to use bamboo as a cloth material for athletic wear instead of petroleum products like polyester to cut down on fossil fuel use. The bamboo functions as well or better than polyester for all important uses.
Shirlayne Quayle, TechTitans advisor, (801) 244-0542 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben France, techTitans student chair, (435) 770-7663 (cell), email@example.com.
Thad Kelling, public relations specialist, Office of Technology Venture Development – (801) 587-8811, firstname.lastname@example.org.