Six Teams from University of Arkansas Advance to Governor's Cup Finals

Winners will be announced at awards luncheon in Little Rock

Monday, April 07, 2014
Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas (far left), is joined by students on 2014 U of A business plan competition teams: Brad Phelan (left to right), Jason Kohrig, Randy Espinal Cabrera, Justin Urso, Neil Bora, Joe Huff, Andrew Boehm, Jackie Frentz, Scott Andrews, Trevor Ferguson, Will Gilbrech and Michael Iseman. Advisers Maria Driesel and Jeff Amerine are on the far right. Students not pictured: Mike Finan and Randi Cruz

Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas (far left), is joined by students on 2014 U of A business plan competition teams: Brad Phelan (left to right), Jason Kohrig, Randy Espinal Cabrera, Justin Urso, Neil Bora, Joe Huff, Andrew Boehm, Jackie Frentz, Scott Andrews, Trevor Ferguson, Will Gilbrech and Michael Iseman. Advisers Maria Driesel and Jeff Amerine are on the far right. Students not pictured: Mike Finan and Randi Cruz

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Six teams from the University of Arkansas – including four at the graduate level — have advanced to the finals of the 14th annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Competition.

The winners will be announced at the Governor’s Cup awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 9, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The winning teams in the graduate and undergraduate divisions will each win $25,000.

New for this year is the C. Sam Walls Entrepreneur Educator Award, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to honor Walls for his commitment to entrepreneurial education in Arkansas. Two college or university educators will be awarded the Walls Award along with a $2,500 cash prize each and $2,500 to their respective academic institutions for use in the furtherance of entrepreneurial education.

Additionally, an elevator pitch competition will be held live at the luncheon, in which luncheon attendees will use text messaging to select the winners in the undergraduate and graduate categories. The top graduate and undergraduate elevator pitch winners will each receive $2,000.

The University of Arkansas has won the graduate division at the Governor’s Cup 11 consecutive years, and placed the top three teams in the graduate division in three of the last four years, including 2013 with Picasolar, which presented a plan to develop a patent-pending process to improve the efficiency of solar cells.

This year, the teams DataVis, HemaNotics, LumaDrop and talentt made the finals of the graduate division. DataVis, HemaNotics and LumaDrop also were named finalists in the graduate innovation category, which carries a first-place prize of $5,000.

Two U of A teams — Annova Energy and BioBotic Solutions — made the finals of the undergraduate competition, with BioBotic Solutions also competing for first-place in the innovation category.

Under the guidance of Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship, the U of A has fielded competitive graduate student teams at state, regional, national, and international business plan competitions since 2002. During the past decade, students have won more than $2 million in cash at these competitions. 

“It is exciting to see entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas so well-represented at the Governor’s Cup,” Reeves said. “The awards ceremony is always a highlight for our teams and we hope our tradition of success will continue this year.”

DataVis, which is developing image-recognition software that simplifies and speeds up the inventory auditing process of retail store shelves, finished second in February at the 2014 Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition at Kennesaw State University.

Three students in the executive master of business administration program Sam M. Walton College of Business constitute DataVis:

  • Mike Finan
  • Jason Kohrig
  • Justin Urso

LumaDrop finished third at the 16th annual IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition, held Jan. 24-25 at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. The four-person, interdisciplinary team has developed a plan to commercialize an eye drop for macular degeneration.

LumaDrop’s team includes:

  • Neil Bora, a third-year student in the School of Law
  • Randy Espinal Cabrera, a doctoral student in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
  • Joe Huff, an M.B.A student in Walton College
  • Brad Phelan, an M.B.A. student in Walton College

HemaNotics has developed a plan to improve the accuracy at which doctors can assign dosages of the anticoagulant prescription drug warfarin, saving both lives and money. Determining the correct dosing for warfarin is extremely challenging due to a narrow therapeutic range and high variation in each individual’s response to the drug based on genetics, metabolic rates, race, and age.

HemaNotics’ team includes:

  • Scott Andrews, an M.B.A. student in Walton College
  • Andrew Boehm, an executive M.B.A. student in Walton College
  • Jackie Frentz, a master of accountancy student in Walton College

All three teams formed in the New Venture Development graduate course taught by Reeves, holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Walton College.

Randi Cruz, a graduate student in communications, comprises talentt, which made the finals of the graduate division. Working with non-U of A students, Cruz helped create a mobile application that allows local professionals and creative types to connect and transact by alleviating the headaches involved in third-party staffing services. Lisa Corrigan, an assistant professor of communications, advises talentt.

At the undergraduate level, BioBiotic Solutions and Annova Energy finished second and third, respectively, at the 2014 New Venture Competition, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in March.

BioBotic Solutions, which is being advised by Reeves and Jeff Amerine, has developed a plan to commercialize a container and robot that automate one of the few areas of a pathology lab — tissue handling — that is not yet automated. Amerine directs Technology Ventures, the U of A’s technology transfer office. Maria Driesel, a graduate student from Germany who is taking classes at the U of A, assisted in advising BioBotic Solutions.

BioBiotic Solutions includes:

  • Rachel Zweig, who is majoring in chemistry and mathematics at Hendrix College
  • Michael Iseman, a senior finance major in Walton College and an Honors College student
  • Kelley Coakley, a senior biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering

Annova Energy, which is being advised by Amerine, developed a plan that optimizes the use of renewal or alternative energy for residential consumers.

The two members of Annova Energy are Trevor Ferguson, a senior finance major in Walton College and Will Gilbrech, a senior accounting major in Walton College. Ferguson and Wilbrech are also both Honors College students.

Contacts:

Carol Reeves, associate vice provost
Academic Affairs
479-575-6220, creeves@uark.edu

Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
University Relations
479-575-4737, cwbranam@uark.edu

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