Friday, December 8, 2023

Student entrepreneurs win support, experience to take their tech ventures to the next level

Student entrepreneurs win support, experience to take their tech ventures to the next level

APRIL 28, 2022 — UTSA student team Remedium won first place at the $100K Student Technology Venture Competition for its product, The Hermes. The team includes UTSA biomedical engineering students Jaime Benavides, Felipe Morales, Rich Yi and Isaiah Arredondo.

The Hermes is a muscle fatigue monitoring system built into compression shorts. When an athlete wears the shorts, sensors embedded within the fabric monitor how the quadriceps and hamstrings are functioning and sends signals about the muscles’ performance in real time via Bluetooth to a dashboard. The product is intended to help athletes and coaching staff see when these core muscles have reached their limit and need rest in order to avoid injuries that can result from overfatigue.

The competition, hosted annually by the Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) office, gives students hands-on experience as early stage entrepreneurs. Interdisciplinary teams work throughout the semester to develop a technology-based product and business plan to successfully develop a new company. Finalists of the competition receive access to a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding and in-kind services to launch their new companies.

“The teams participating in this year’s competition continued to show the innovation and entrepreneurial thinking of our UTSA students.”

$100K Student Technology Venture Competition Winners

Five teams pitched their technology ventures in the final round competition earlier this month. Each team had seven minutes to present its business case and three minutes to answer questions from judges, who evaluated the teams on their pitch, their prototype and their business plan.

This year, competitors presented to a panel of industry leaders including Oscar Rodriguez, local technology entrepreneur, Jose Salinas, capability area manager for the Medical Robotics and Autonomous Systems program at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Jeff Moe, angel investor and startup consultant, Jessica Raley, director of business development at Cancer Insight and Trauma Insight, and Lance Kimbro, entrepreneur and attorney whose EZ-Torque team won top prize at the university’s tech venture competition in 2015.

Earning second place was The Backpack, a team of biomedical engineering students including Garrett FernandezAshley RidoutLizet Rojas and Kayla Ruiz. This team also took this semester’s Senior Design II $4,000 top prize at the UTSA Tech Symposium. Working with San Antonio-based NVision Biomedical and mentored by UTSA assistant professor Hugo Giambini, the team is developing a magnet-based lumbar disc replacement device to help reduce pain and increase mobility for individuals suffering from degenerative disc disease.

Coming in third was Blynx, a company co-founded by sophomore engineering students Joe Gonzalez and John Navarro. Mentored by Gordon Daughtery, co-founder and chairman of Capital Factory, and Jon Garcia, programs manager at Geekdom, the team developed an advanced LED light control panel that will allow consumers to create their own customized light and sound experience without the need for coding.

“The teams participating in this year’s competition continued to show the innovation and entrepreneurial thinking of our UTSA students,” said Randy Quinn, UTSA executive director for student innovation and entrepreneurship. “Just by participating in the competition, they’ve now had a taste of what entrepreneurship is all about and how to apply that mindset to their lives and future careers.”

The UTSA Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship office is a cross-disciplinary effort linking innovation to commercialization. Bolstered by its position as a Blackstone Launchpad partner, SIE provides space—both physical and mental—to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among all UTSA students, faculty and the San Antonio community through education, real-world experiences, resources and support to create new technology-based ventures, serving as a catalyst for progress in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As part of the UTSA Career-Engaged Learning academic support division, the experiential learning opportunities offered to students through the SIE program help advance the university’s classroom to career initiative.

SIE hosts two competitions each year—$100K Tech Venture in the spring and the Big Rowdy Idea in the fall—to give students hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and pitching for first-round funding. In addition, SIE hosts an Entrepreneurship Boot Camp twice a year and offers resources and guidance to students interested in entrepreneurship year-round.

KC Gonzalez

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