Picasolar, Catch-22 Big Winners at 2013 Reynolds Governor's Cup

by Mark Carter  on Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2013 1:57 pm  

Members of the Picasolar team from the University of Arkansas are inteviewed following their win at the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Awards event in Little Rock. (Photo by Mark Carter)

Reeves has mentored many successful UA business-plan teams that have won prestigious international competitions and gone on to future business success.

"I think you may be writing about these guys for a long time," she told Arkansas Business on Wednesday.

Reeves noted that all four of the UA's graduate teams -- Picasolar, EverClean, HomeDx and ParadigMed -- have spent the last year battling each other in various competitions.

Catch-22 represents a big win for UALR, said Jeff Stinson, director of the school's Innovation Center and executive director of Fund for Arkansas' Future, a member-managed, angel investment firm based in Little Rock.

Catch-22 proposes to take Asian carp, an invasive fish that has wreaked havoc with native species in the Mississippi River basin, and turn them into liquid organic fertilizer.

"I knew from the first time I saw Catch-22 present that they were something special," Stinson said. "We're delighted and proud for them to represent UALR. The sky's the limit for them."

The Arkansas Governor's Cup is presented by the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, a division of Arkansas Capital Corporation. According to AEAF, since the cup was started in 2001, more than 2,000 students representing 24 Arkansas schools have competed and taken home more than $1 million in prize money for their startup ventures.

The Arkansas Cup has become known as a stepping stone to success at the Tri-State Cup. In fact, many UA teams have fared well or won prestigious competitions outside the state only to find the competition tougher at Governor's Cup.

Last year, teams from John Brown University won both Governor's Cups on the undergrad level.

"There's some pretty stiff competition here," Reeves said, noting the emergence of talented teams from other Arkansas schools. "In 2010, our Silcon Solar Solutions team won competitions outside the state but placed third here."

All four 2013 UA grad teams were invited to the prestigious Venture Labs Investment Competition, the "Super Bowl" of competitions set for May 2-4 at the University of Texas in Austin.

In January, Picasolar won a Canadian competition. The team was set to leave Wednesday afternoon for the equally prestigious Rice University competition Friday and Saturday in Houston. Next month, it will compete at MIT and Tri-State. 



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