AMHERST, Mass. – The ninth annual University of Massachusetts Amherst Innovation Challenge business plan competition gave out $60,250 in awards to five competing teams, with Rescue Collar winning the top prize of $25,000. Other successful teams were mDiagnostics which won a total of $15,000; Fiberessence and Nine Brain each won $7,500, while Acne Free, Naturally received $5,250 at the April 7 event.
Funding for the prizes comes from a pool of $50,000 provided by private sector contributions and two special $5,000 awards, the David Wolf Prize and the Glass Prize.
Rescue Collar offers a wearable device that reunites lost pets with their owners through community and technology. The team is led by MBA candidate David Waymouth, working with faculty advisor Alan Robinson from the Isenberg School of Management. Rescue Collar will also be fast-tracked into the second round of the MassChallenge, a Boston-based global startup competition. “The Innovation Challenge has been an amazing experience for me,” says Waymouth. “I’m extremely grateful for all the advice and guidance that I received from the judges, mentors, family and friends. It’s been a great learning process as I’ve watched my idea for a product take shape into a viable business model over the past few months.”
Since 2005, the UMass Innovation Challenge has provided $625,000 in awards to 73 different student-led teams. The awards are entirely supported by private sector contributions.
“All five of these finalist teams showed terrific progress this year and have great promise for impact as they take the next steps to turn their innovations and passion into reality,” said Mike Malone, Ronnie and Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professor of Engineering and vice chancellor for research and engagement.