Five Teams Compete in Innovation Challenge Finals at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – Five teams of student entrepreneurs will be pitching business plans hoping to win some of the $50,000 in prize money at the finals of the Innovation Challenge at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday, April 7. The event takes place at 5 p.m. in the Events Hall of the Commonwealth Honors College. The competition is free and open to the public.

The Innovation Challenge is an annual competition, designed to inspire, educate and reward teams of UMass students, faculty and recent alumni, who work together to integrate science, engineering and business to create new businesses. Since 2005, the UMass Amherst Innovation Challenge has provided more than $500,000 in awards to 69 different student-led teams. The awards are entirely supported by private sector contributions.

The event begins with hors d’oeuvres and networking at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. the teams will make their five-minute investor presentations to the judges and audience. Judges then decide which team has the best entrepreneurial plan for taking a new idea to market. The winning team or teams will be announced at about 7:15 p.m.

The final five competing teams in the Innovation Challenge are:

  • Acne Free, Naturally, which offers an easy to use product that eliminates acne-causing bacteria from the skin without harmful side effects.

  • FiberEssence, which provides all natural, antibacterial, wound healing bandages based on cinnamon.

  • mDiagnostics,which offers a reliable, portable, single-use, low-cost, hepatitis C screening device.

  • nineBrain, which provides thefirst socially-enabled professional network for academic inventors to create up-to-date, online,technology resumes for empowering tech-transfer. 

  • Rescue Collar, which offersa wearable device that reunites lost pets with their owners through community and technology at the push of a button.

In addition to the grand prize and other cash prizes, special awards are anticipated. These include the recently established Robert and Sandra Glass Innovation Fund that will provide $5,000 to be awarded to a select team or teams participating in the challenge. Also, the intellectual property law firm Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C. will present the David Wolf Prize of $5,000 to the team of innovators that the firm believes demonstrates the greatest potential. The prize honors the memory of UMass Amherst alumnus David Wolf and his 60-year career as an intellectual property lawyer and leader of the firm founded by his father, Ezekiel Wolf, in 1927. Wolf Greenfield is a founding sponsor of the competition.

The UMass Amherst co-sponsors are the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Sciences, the Isenberg School of Management and the UMass Innovation Institute. 

Innovation Challenge prizes are funded by sponsors, including Wolf Greenfield; Saint Gobain; Glass Family Endowment for Entrepreneurial Studies; alumnus Steve Luby; alumnus William Firestone; Cantor Colburn LLP; CISCO; Raytheon; Saul Ewing; an anonymous faculty donor; alumnus Stephen Dunne; alumnus Eric Janszen and Candy Janszen; Provenance Venture Partners, and Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting. Support from Eugene M. and Ronnie Isenberg is gratefully acknowledged.