UMass Amherst’s Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship Awards More Than $50,000 to Student Ventures

AMHERST, Mass. – The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst recently held the second annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy Awards night in Old Chapel, hosting more than 100 students, faculty members, staffers and ecosystem partners in person and via livestream. Cash prizes totaling more than $50,000 were awarded to student venture teams who had won pitch competitions throughout the fall semester as part of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy programming.

Featured speakers included many integral members of the university’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, including Anne Massey, dean of the Isenberg School of Management.

“There’s an energy across this campus behind innovation and entrepreneurship,” Massey said. “Everybody is involved and committed.”

Sundar Krishnamurty, Isenberg Distinguished Professor in Engineering, told the crowd, “I’m proud to be among the next generation of innovators in this room.”

Other speakers included Michael Boyle, regional manager, North America, at the Hult Prize Foundation; students Nate Yee and Wil Duggan, who represented the Entrepreneurship Club; and Eugene Mak, co-director of the HackUMass competition.

A few notable supporters who were not able to attend the event shared video messages. They included Tricia Serio, provost and senior vice chancellor, who said, “This event is a wonderful manifestation of our land grant mission to increase educational opportunities and make an impact on the world.”

Laura Haas, dean of the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, and Sanjay Raman, dean of the College of Engineering, both also appeared via video.

Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center, hosted the event, emphasizing that it was intended to celebrate the participating students on their journey. “We are excited to support all the applicants, contestants, and those who are winners tonight, so they can continue along their journey,” he said before announcing the night’s winners:

Business Plan Competition

  • Morpheus—Cynthia Rajeshkanna, Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, $5,000

Tech Challenge

  • 1st: Morpheus—Cynthia Rajeshkanna, Manning College of Information and Computer Science, $12,000
  • 2nd: Glow Safely—Angelina Caggiano, College of Engineering, $8,000
  • 3rd: SandTronix—Oscar Hennin, College of Engineering, $5,000

Executive Pitch

  • 1st: Sandtronix—Oscar Hennin, College of Engineering, $10,000
  • 2nd: CardVerse—Ritik Shah, College of Engineering, $4,000
  • 3rd: FUD—JB Goriou, Isenberg School of Management and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, $1,000

Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

  • 1st: SandTronix—Oscar Hennin, College of Engineering $2,000
  • Social Impact Award: Awkward—Will Duggan, Isenberg School of Management and College of Natural Sciences $1,250
  • Change Maker Award: Bodhi—Uma Purani, Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences $1,250