Ten finalists in the Fisher Innovation Launchpad entrepreneurship competition presented their business ideas on October 24 at the University of Wyoming (UW) Student Union.
The finalists competed for seed funding and free business support.
This year, four winners were selected: Fitter, JarrowTech, SLD Photonics, and Vosokey. There were also three honorable mentions awarded: CellSight, Computherap, and Kopia. $125,000 will be split between all seven businesses.
The competition helps create businesses in Wyoming that stay in the state and create jobs.
"This is our fourth year. Over the past three years, we've funded 17 companies, but we've created 24 out of it," said Fred Schmechel, the assistant director at the Wyoming Technology Business Center. "Those 24 companies, not all of them are around today because it's capitalism, but of those companies, we've created about 40 jobs with that. So it's a very impactful way of keeping our young people here."
Finalists ranged from a fitness app to a system to improve greenhouse efficiency to a tracking system to study shopper habits.
One winning company, VosoKey, is trying to help people learn to play an instrument, starting with the piano.
"The idea is, you'll put this headset on and you'll be encased in this virtual world and you'll see your hands in the piano in front of you. And you'll see sheet music and you also see a, almost like a guitar hero style, note system coming down," said Matt Poremba, VosoKey’s founder. "And using these aspects, kind of create a video game feel, which will make it a lot more interesting and help people to practice and see the results they want to see."
Another finalist, started by Mohammad Mehri and called Computherap is focused on making heart surgery safer.
"Using supercomputer capacities, we are going to do sophisticated simulations that can make all those risky and vague kinds of treatments about the cardiovascular system quantified and simulated and visualized," said Mehri. "So that surgery team can have the good understanding and prediction of the different outcomes of doing different treatments. And they can choose the best scenario."
The Fisher Innovation Launchpad requires that the teams be made up of a UW undergraduate or graduate student and/or a post-doc. A new Launchpad is currently open for residents of Albany and Laramie counties: The Southeast Wyoming Innovation Launchpad. More information can be found on their website.
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