SiVEC Biotechnologies, a startup founded by Lyndsey Linke, a graduate student from Colorado State University, won the CSU Collegiate Challenge business pitch competition April 27.
This earned the company a grand prize of $20,000 in cash, and automatic pre-qualification for the online semifinal application for the Capital Championship (formerly the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge), the winner of which will compete for a $250,000 grand prize.
SiVEC Biotechnologies develops antiviral products for the rapid prevention of economically important respiratory diseases in commercial poultry. The company’s patent pending antiviral technology, SiVEC-AIV™, can be rapidly applied as a large-scale aerosol to prevent avian influenza virus in poultry, thereby protecting the poultry industry from catastrophic economic losses.
SiVEC’s prize package also includes insights on product development and marketing for the product and program management and insights report provided by The Shuuk; an automatic interview for Boomtown Accelerator; one year of the complete AllProWebTools solutions; public relations services provided by Meld Strategy + Communications; pro bono design, patent support or consulting time provided by Beknown; pro bono legal services provided by Lewis Roca Rothgerber; and, pro bono legal services provided by Kendall, Koenig & Oelsner PC.
Linke developed the technology as a Ph.D. student at CSU and continued her work as a post-doctoral research associate in Clinical Sciences. She talked about how the experience of competing in CSU’s Collegiate Challenge will help further her business.
“The validation that you’re working toward something that can have an impact is really meaningful,” said Linke. “To take it a step further and receive a prize and money, and people who believe in the technology and want to see it move forward, is even more exciting. It’s been an amazing experience.”
Linke also talked about the great support she’s received from CSU Ventures in developing SiVEC’s technology and her business.
“CSU Ventures has been amazing,” said Linke. “I’ve learned about the commercialization process, intellectual property, technology transfer and the patent process. More than that, they’ve given me so much insight and knowledge into how startup companies can be successful. They’ve given me the skill set to feel that I can take this on and they’ve also provided a lot of strategic support. They’re support has really been invaluable.”
SiVEC Biotechnologies also won the People’s Choice Award, voted on by the audience in the Finals Round.
SiVEC outpitched 13 collegiate teams from five states, receiving the highest marks from judges Rich Batenberg, president and CEO of Cliintel Capital Group; Matt Erickson, president and COO of Zayo Group; Mike Freeman, CEO of Innosphere; Sue Kunz, CEO of Thrive on Group; and, Lisa Tessarowicz, angel investor, philanthropist and co-founder of Epicentral Coworking.
The second place prize of $5,000 was awarded to IgnoreU, founded by Carmelo Mannino, a graduate of CSU’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA, and Brandon Dewey, a computer science graduate. IgnoreU is a spam filter for digital content. It integrates existing social media content into a mobile application and lets individual users control how they consume content by ignoring content they do not want to see, without having to sacrifice the content they love.
“We haven’t competed against a field this big, with this much diversity,” said Mannino. “This was the first time we had competed in something this broad. Every time we participate in one of these competitions, it’s just satisfying to know that we’re on to something. And when we win, or even take second place at competition like this, it’s rewarding and it validates that we have something real.”
In March, IgnoreU won the University Startup Challenge at the Rockies Venture Club Angel Capital Summit.
After the CSU Collegiate Challenge, Mannino talked about the next steps for IgnoreU.
“We’re on the Google Play Store,” said Mannino. “Our next step is to launch on the Apple App Store within the next week and then gain users. We’re going to hit the ground running. We’re just so focused on building our user base and building this company.”
Prizes were awarded by Wade Troxell, mayor of the City of Fort Collins; Alan Rudolph, vice president for research at CSU; Beth Walker, dean of the College of Business; Todd Headley, president of CSU Ventures; and, Christine Chin, interim director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, after an exciting day of competition at the Lory Student Center.
“The competition was very tough this year,” said Chin. “We had 14 companies from five Mountain West states. The caliber of the companies and their products or services impressed the judges and made their decision very difficult. We are grateful to our volunteer judges and our sponsors for supporting student entrepreneurs through this event.”
The Innovation Symposium, which made up half of the Collegiate Challenge, featured a poster session that showcased a diverse array of research in engineering, creative works, life sciences and physical sciences. The top four poster presenters from each category vied for the title of Best in Show before a panel of judges.
Thor Hogberg and Kyle Greer took home the $1,000 Best in Show poster prize for their project, “Particulate Matter Reduction Device in High Firepower Chimney Stoves.” Working in CSU’s Advanced Biomass Laboratory, part of the Energy Institute, the team has developed a marketable solution for the 4.3 million people around the world who die prematurely due to indoor air pollution. Their work incentivizes the adoption of chimneys, reduces indoor and outdoor particulate matter emissions, and provides access to electricity.
Best in Show runners-up were: Melissa Edwards, “Take Note of the Flipped Script;” Harmonie Akers, “Application of Metabolomics to Understand the Contribution of Barley to Beer Flavor and Flavor Stability;” and Janet Yapor, “Biodegradable Wound-healing Dressings.”
The Innovation Symposium also featured a People’s Choice award for the posters. The winner was Sanli Movafaghi, in mechanical engineering, for “Tunable Superomniphobic Surfaces for Sorting Droplets by Surface Tension.” Runners-up were: Nadia Sampaio, in environmental and radiological health sciences, for “Improving Biofuel Production Through Genetic Modification of Yeast;” and Miao Hong, in chemistry, for “Completely Recyclable Polymers as Sustainable Bioplastics and Biomaterials.”
About the CSU Collegiate Challenge
The CSU Collegiate Challenge is a competition that inspires, connects and educates student entrepreneurs to improve their success trajectory. Presented by Colorado State University, the competition is a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit among students, innovation, leadership development and supporting ventures that make a difference. The competition aims to connect students to the robust CSU and Northern Colorado entrepreneurial ecosystem. Fourteen student companies from the Mountain West region will get the opportunity to compete for $25,000 in prizes.
About the Capital Championship
The winner of the CSU Collegiate Challenge has an automatic pre-qualification for the online semifinal application for the Capital Championship (formerly the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge). Capital Championship is a nationwide entrepreneurial tournament that rewards the ultimate victor $250,000. The tournament strengthens the startup community by offering exposure, networking, mentorship, and cash to emerging entrepreneurs.