Charlotte Venture Challenge Awards $75,000 to Top Startups
The 2013 Charlotte Venture Challenge attracted a capacity crowd of over 300 people to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 1, 2013 for fast-paced presentations by eight early stage companies. The evening concluded with the $25,000 grand prize awarded to Bio-Adhesive Alliance.
Nineteen finalists competed for over $75,000 in prize money.
The event featured remarks by Philip L. Dubois, Chancellor UNC Charlotte on the universities engagement in economic development. Dr. Robert G. Wilhelm, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development at UNC Charlotte opened the event with a briefing about how the new PORTAL building will enable the university to collaborate in powerful new ways with business partners ranging from start-ups to major corporations. Patrick T. Mumford, Director of Neighborhood and Business Services at the City of Charlotte offered remarks on the City’s commitment to entrepreneurship and their support of a new initiative, Lemonade Day.
The finals competition began early on May 1 at the Ben Craig Center as nineteen finalists presented their businesses to over thirty angel investors. The morning event determined the six category winners plus two wild cards who would go on to pitch at the evening public event. The eight selected finalists made their final five-minute pitch and responded to rapid-fire question from a judging panel that awarded the $25,000 grand prize.
The judging panel included multiple perspectives from experienced investors and entrepreneurs. Panelists included Paul Grim, Sunbridge Capital, John Cambier, Idea Fund Partners, Don Rainey, Grotech Ventures, Michelle Menard, Founder Choice Translating, Inc. and Rock Hankin, Chairman of the Board at Semtech Corp. (NASDAQ).
Bio-Adhesive Alliance was selected as the $25,000 grand prize winner. The start-up company is a spin-out from NC A&T State University that has developed an innovative technology to produce liquid asphalt from swine manure. According to the company, “This technology provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution to swine manure treatment while reducing pavement construction and maintenance cost.” The Bio-Adhesive Alliance team completed the National Science Foundation’s commercialization program known as I-Corps.
The Category winners eligible for $10,000 awards included: 1) New Energy and High Tech–Bio-Adhesive Alliance (Greensboro, NC); 2) IT and –Robocent (Norfolk, VA); 3) Consumer Products and Services–Greenbug (Beaufort, SC); and, 4) Life Science and Biotech–WeRx.org, (Charlotte, NC). The undergraduate student category winner was NoireNaturals from UNC Charlotte. The graduate student category winner was ProVazo from University of Virginia. The J. Chris Murphy award was awarded to the top UNC Charlotte student team, NoireNaturals.
This year’s competition included a new award for the startup that would most benefit from a corporate strategic partnership. The judging panel for this award included executives from Wells Fargo, Flextronics, Belk, Bank of America, SPX, Ingersoll Rand, Husqvarna, Midrex, Lowes, Microsoft, Electrolux and TIAA-CREF. Sustainable Ethanol Technologies (Charlotte, NC) was selected as the winner.
Over 200 startups have entered the competition, formerly known as Five Ventures, since it was re-named the Charlotte Venture Challenge in 2012.This year’s competition included entrants from 24 North Carolina counties, District of Columbia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. The competition features extensive volunteer engagement by over fifty reviewers and mentors.