For the first time this year, the first- and second-place undergraduate and graduate teams also won the chance to compete at the Tri-State Championships on May 13-15 in Las Vegas. The top teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada will win $25,000, and second place teams get $15,000.
Chauncey Holloman, 19, of Little Rock, will be making the trip to promote Renaizzance Clothing, which took home the first-place undergraduate prize.
The University of Central Arkansas student turned a greeting card business that she started four years ago called Harlem Lyrics into a hip-hop clothing line. The line is being shipped out to Macy's Department Store later this month, she said. Holloman said she would like to continue to develop other related products.
"I want to keep rolling with it," she said.
Walter Hussman Jr., president and CEO of WEHCO Media Inc. and publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was chairman of this year's event.
Keynote speaker Peter T. Grauer, chairman and president of financial media company Bloomberg LP, focused on his own entrepreneurial experience and the importance of interpersonal skills and hard work.
"I believe there are three traits that you will find in all successful businesses: entrepreneurship, imagination and innovation," he said.
University of Arkansas student Kellen Frank and his team's business, Protrom Medical, won first place in the graduate division. Frank said the company's medical products are based upon the work of Justin Regner, a surgeon at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Winning the $5,000 graduate award for innovation was TruSource Technologies of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a team that also competed earlier this month in the Rice University Business Plan Competition. Those students used nanotechnology to develop an anti-counterfeit sensor to be used by pharmaceutical companies.
"We've really learned a lot," said Enkeleda Dervishi.
The competition was conceived by Arkansas Capital Corporation Group in an effort to promote the development and commercialization of ideas and technologies at universities. In 2004, a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation provided funding, which also established similar competitions in Oklahoma and Nevada. The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, an affiliate company of the ACCG, manages the competition.
Here are the award winners:
First Place: Renaizzance Clothing, University of Central Arkansas - A company with an urban clothing line that has a "positive and inspiring outlook on hip-hop." ($20,000)
Second Place: Enterra, John Brown University - A retail store that would specialize in environmentally friendly fashion. ($10,000)
Third Place: VitaTag, Harding University - A company that would supply cost-efficient products for tracking the health and progress of livestock. ($5,000)
Innovation Award: VitaTag, Harding University ($5,000)
First place: Protrom Medical, University of Arkansas - A company that would provide innovative medical systems, such as a temporary abdominal closure device. ($20,000)
Second place: MerchantEyes LLC, University of Arkansas - A company whose Web-based software would track and validate in-store retail merchandising activities. ($10,000)
Third place: Track Life Systems, University of Arkansas - A company that would provide power plant engineers information on accurate inspection intervals, energy-efficient operating parameters, materials properties data and more. ($5,000)
Innovation Award: TruSource Technologies LLC, University of Arkansas at Little Rock - A company that would market an anti-counterfeit, nano-composite sensor to pharmaceutical companies. ($5,000)