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)

University of Arkansas startup Picasolar and Catch-22 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock took home the top overall prizes Wednesday at the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup.

Picasolar won first prize in the graduate division of the state's top collegiate business-plan competition, while Catch-22 took top honors in the undergraduate division before Gov. Mike Beebe and about 1,000 in attendance at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Teams from the UA swept the top three places on the graduate level, with HomeDx placing second and EverClean Coating Solutions third. UA teams swept the graduate division in 2012 as well. EScout from Ouachita Baptist University won second in the undergraduate division, and Innovative Medical Sensor Tech of Harding University was third.

(Video: Watch the complete awards ceremony right here: 2013 Reynolds Governor's Cup 'Leave Your Mark' Event at Little Rock's Statehouse Convention Center.)

Forty-seven teams from 13 Arkansas colleges and universities submitted plans for the 2013 competition. Those entries were whittled down to 12 undergrad semifinalists and six graduate finalists, each of whom presented their plans to judges last week in Fayetteville.

Winners were announced at Wednesday's ceremony, which also produced two elevator pitch contest winners -- TrustedWills.com from OBU (undergrad), which launches June 1, and IsoLabs from Harding (graduate).

The pitch winners were determined through audience participation -- ceremony attendees texted their preference to a short code provided courtesy of Little Rock mobile marketing firm Sumotext.

Other winners included Catch-22 in the agriculture category, and Harding's LifeB (undergrad) and EverClean Coating Solutions in the innovation category.

All winners took home cash prizes including $25,000 for first place overall, $15,000 for second and $10,000 for third. The agriculture and innovation winners each won cash prizes of $5,000, and the pitch winners each earned $2,000.

The top two undergraduate ands graduate winners advance to the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Governor's Cup May 22-24 in Las Vegas. That competition pits state winners from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada.

Businesses on the Rise

Picasolar has developed a patent-pending technology that aims to increase the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent and save solar cell manufacturers up to $20 million annually. UA team mentor Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the Walton Business College, said Picasolar represents a venture that has a chance to "change the world."

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. 

"We've worked really hard," said Picasolar CEO Trish Flanagan. "But there's more momentum we can gain."

Complete Winners List

The 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup winners are:

Undergraduate AT&T Elevator Pitch Award - $2,000
TrustedWills.com
Ouachita Baptist University
Team member: Lindsey Fowler
Team advisor: Bryan McKinney

Graduate AT&T Elevator Pitch Award - $2,000
IsoLabs
Harding University
Team members: Jason Grace, Claire Mowrer, Connor Galloway, Michael Kruse, Gary Torres
Team advisor: William Oliver

Undergraduate Delta Plastics Innovation Award - $5,000
LifeB
Harding University
Team members: Ross Tuneberg, Sofia Lopez, Matthew Irvine, Emilio Espino, James Robbins
Team advisor: Allen Frazier, Ph.D.

Graduate Delta Plastics Innovation Award - $5,000
EverClean Coating Solutions, LLC
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Team members: Corey Thompson, Bill Ryan, Manish Phogat
Team advisor: Carol Reeves, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Arkansas Farm Bureau Agriculture Award 1st Place - $6,000
Catch-22
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Team members: James Rutherford, Ryan Guinee, Robert Grasby, Brandon Burroughs
Team advisor: Richard Crane

Undergraduate Arkansas Farm Bureau Agriculture Award 2nd Place - $4,000
Smart Soil
John Brown University
Team members: Maritta Mitchell, Stephanie Reno, Michael Shaffer, Elizabeth Varela Reyes
Team co-advisors: Eva Fast and Mike Kennelley, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Business Plan Winners

1st Place - $25,000
Catch-22
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Team members: James Rutherford, Ryan Guinee, Robert Grasby, Brandon Burroughs
Team advisor: Richard Crane

2nd Place - $15,000
eScout
Ouachita Baptist University
Team members: Connor Burke, Jason Cantwell, Sarah McKimmey
Team advisor: Phil Rice, Ph.D. 

3rd Place - $10,000
Innovative Medical Sensor Tech.
Harding University
Team members: Jeremiah Vivio, Paula Morales, Cory Miller, Hayden Shirley
Team advisor: Allen Frazier, Ph.D.

Graduate Business Plan Winners

1st Place - $25,000
Picasolar
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Team members: Trish Flanagan, Matthew Young, Michael Miller, Seth Shumate
Team advisor: Carol Reeves, Ph.D.

2nd Place - $15,000
HomeDx
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Team members: Calvin Smith, Will Swearingen, Max Mahler, Daniel Cherry, Audra Mazzeo
Team advisor: Carol Reeves, Ph.D.

3rd Place - $10,000
EverClean Coating Solutions, LLC
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Team members: Corey Thompson, Bill Ryan, Manish Phogat
Team advisor: Carol Reeves, Ph.D.

 

 

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