Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
The winners of an annual competition evaluating the innovations and business plans of some of Oklahoma’s brightest graduate and undergraduate college students were made this month at the 2017 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition.
This year, the Love’s Cup attracted a record number of students from learning institutions across the state, including research campuses, two-year colleges and private regional universities.
Composite Damage Solutions from the University of Tulsa won the High Growth Graduate Division and a $20,000 prize. The team is developed a solution that can detect damage or cracking in a composite material.
VisionaRX from Oklahoma State University won the High Growth Undergraduate Division and a $20,000 prize. The team is working on developing a contact lens that can deliver drugs to the eye in cases where the patient is suffering from diabetic retinopathy.
VisuALS from Oklahoma Christian University won the Small Business Division and a $10,000 prize. The team is developing software that helps amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients who have lost the use of their hands to use their eyes to “type” a message the user then can send to a recipient.
First and second place winners from the High Growth Graduate and Undergraduate divisions will go on to compete in a larger competition later this year.
Winners also were named from interview and pitch competitions, and three students also were honored with $5,000 scholarship awards.
Scott Meacham, the president and CEO of i2E Inc., which manages the competition, has said i2E starts the process to make these cup awards each year by holding a full-day seminar in the fall that’s called “Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur?”
After that, students form teams and figure out an idea for a business plan. They do the research, create the financial projections, and perform market validations to build a product that their target customers would want to buy.
They learn how to talk to investors and how to seek out and take the advice from mentors and industry experts, and figure out how to work as a team and how to delegate. In the service of entrepreneurship, they do things they’ve never done before.
Throughout, Meacham said the students take what they’ve learned in classrooms and labs and apply it to the real world.
“What we’ve seen here … are the first important steps down the entrepreneur’s path for many of these students,” Meacham said at this year’s event. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they emerge as entrepreneurs as they advance their innovations toward the marketplace.”