Student entrepreneurs win support, experience to take their tech ventures to the next level | UTSA Today | UTSA

Five teams pitched their technology ventures in the final round competition earlier this month. Each team had seven minutes to present its business case and three minutes to answer questions from judges, who evaluated the teams on their pitch, their prototype and their business plan.

This year, competitors presented to a panel of industry leaders including Oscar Rodriguezlocal technology entrepreneur, Jose Salinascapacity area manager for the Medical Robotics and Autonomous Systems program at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Jeff Moeangel investor and startup consultant, Jessica Raleydirector of business development at Cancer Insight and Trauma Insight, and Lance Kimbroentrepreneur and attorney whose EZ-Torque team won top prize at the university’s tech venture competition in 2015.

Earning second place was The Backpack, a team of biomedical engineering students including Garrett Fernandez, Ashley Ridout, Lizette Rojas and Kayla Ruiz. This team also took this semester’s Senior Design II $4,000 top prize at the UTSA Tech Symposium. Working with San Antonio-based NVision Biomedical and mentored by UTSA assistant professor Hugo Giambinithe team is developing a magnet-based lumbar disc replacement device to help reduce pain and increase mobility for individuals suffering from degenerative disc disease.

Coming in third was Blynx, a company co-founded by sophomore engineering students Joe Gonzalez and John Navarro. Mentored by Gordon Daughteryco-founder and chairman of Capital Factory, and John Garciaprograms manager at Geekdom, the team developed an advanced LED light control panel that will allow consumers to create their own customized light and sound experience without the need for coding.

“The teams participating in this year’s competition continued to show the innovation and entrepreneurial thinking of our UTSA students,” said Randy Quinn, UTSA executive director for student innovation and entrepreneurship. “Just by participating in the competition, they’ve now had a taste of what entrepreneurship is all about and how to apply that mindset to their lives and future careers.”

The UTSA Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship office is a cross-disciplinary effort linking innovation to commercialization. Bolstered by its position as a Blackstone Launchpad partner, SIE provides space—both physical and mental—to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among all UTSA students, faculty and the San Antonio community through education, real-world experiences, resources and support to create new technology -based ventures, serving as a catalyst for progress in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As part of the UTSA Career-Engaged Learning academic support division, the experiential learning opportunities offered to students through the SIE program help advance the university’s classroom to career initiative.

SIE hosts two competitions each year—$100K Tech Venture in the spring and the Big Rowdy Idea in the fall—to give students hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and pitching for first-round funding. In addition, SIE hosts an Entrepreneurship Boot Camp twice a year and offers resources and guidance to students interested in entrepreneurship year-round.

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