The Oregon New Venture Championship (NVC) returned for its milestone 30-year anniversary in an exciting new virtual format, allowing flexibility and accessibility for both competitors and viewers. With events spread out from April 19-23, attendees were able to join in on the action via online event platform HopIn.
One of the most well-known and highly-regarded business plan competitions, NVC draws student teams from around the world. This year’s competition included competitors from universities in Canada, Thailand, India, and Singapore. With such a large and varied applicant pool, each of our 16 semifinalist teams should be proud.
We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 New Venture Championship:
The 2021 New Venture Champion and winner of the Reinmuth Cup is Molly Ally (Thammasat University). They will receive $20,000 to launch their venture. Molly Ally's delicious premium plant-based ice cream will allow billions of lactose-intolerant individuals to live a “Heartier, Healthier, and Happier" life thanks to its zero cholesterol, low sugar, and diabetic-friendly recipe—as well as a reduction in dairy carbon dioxide emissions.
LiRA (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) placed second and will receive $10,000 for their endeavor. LiRA partners with patients and health systems to provide lip-reading technology that empowers voiceless individuals and advances quality medical care. LiRA is developing a next-generation artificial intelligence platform that recognizes specific facial motions associated with speech through a proprietary machine learning algorithm, allowing its platform to translate video data into audio.
In addition to the grand prizes, BioSeal XE (Oklahoma State University) and Leap Snacks (University of California, Los Angeles) each received $2,500 as finalist runners up.
The twelve teams that did not move on to the finals instead participated in the Lightning Round. Four teams won their Lightning Round track and $1,500 each. These winners include:
- Benegraft (Johns Hopkins University)
- JUNO (University of Oklahoma)
- ReNew Innovations (Sasin School of Management)
- SweatHeart (University of Waterloo)
Bank of America Sustainability Round
The Bank of America Sustainability Round required teams to present the social and environmental sustainability components of their ventures. Judges evaluated each team based on their venture's potential positive impact and its viability to launch and grow.
- First place ($5,000): ReNew Innovations (Sasin School of Management)
- Second place ($3,000): Uniphage (Yale-NUS College)
- Runners-up ($1,000 each):
- EcoDabba Packaging Products LLP (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur)
- Transfoam (University of Virginia)
NVC judges also awarded additional prizes to the following groups:
- Best Elevator Pitch ($1,500): Leap Snacks (University of California, Los Angeles)
- Best Written Business Plan ($1,500): MyAutO2, LLC (University of Michigan)
On behalf of the participants, faculty advisors, and staff of the 2021 New Venture Championship, we would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of our sponsors and volunteer judges. Without you, NVC truly would not be possible, and we are tremendously grateful for your support.
If you missed out on watching the week's activities live, each event is available for viewing on our YouTube playlist.
The following teams competed at semifinalists during the 2021 New Venture Championships.
Johns Hopkins University (United States)
Benegraft is an early-stage company developing a breakthrough graft processing platform for the reconstructive surgery market with an initial focus on diced cartilage grafts in rhinoplasties. The Benegraft Rapid Dicer is an off-the-shelf disposable instrument enabling plastic surgeons to quickly dice cartilage from patients without wasting tissue or jeopardizing cell viability, allowing them to create better grafts for nasal reconstruction.
Oklahoma State University (United States)
BioSeal XE is a revolutionary product for treating traumatic wounds on horses located on remote ranches and farms. BioSeal XE immediately stops bleeding within seconds and accelerates wound healing with only one treatment. BioSeal XE has first-mover product advantage. Other products either stop bleeding or treat wounds, but BioSeal XE does both. BioSeal XE saves horse owners hundreds of dollars, several hours of time, and eliminates a great deal of stress.
Blue Comet Medical Solutions
Northwestern University (United States)
Every year there are 40 million cases of sore throat so severe that children and adults seek medical attention. Receiving a diagnosis is disruptive: the time spent making an appointment, traveling to a clinic, and then receiving medical care is all on a clinician’s schedule. We offer an over-the-counter Strep test that a layman can use to swab one’s throat at home, learn if their sore throat is due to Strep, then connect the individual to a telehealth professional who can also see the result through our software, counsel the user, and electronically prescribe medication as needed. We focus on Streptococcal infection because it is one of the few pathogens that warrants a prescription for antibiotics to cure and prevent complications of disease.
EcoDabba Packaging Products LLP
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (India)
EcoDabba is a sustainable food packaging solution that aims to eliminate plastic packaging from the environment by upcycling organic waste from sugarcane (bagasse) to develop affordable, leak-proof, water-resistant, and sturdy packaging products.
Western University (Canada)
Millions of people are unable to secure win-win debt repayment deals, and lenders want to collect whatever they can from defaulting debtors. Because they do not have the resources to negotiate small, unsecured consumer loans, lenders write off non-performing loans and outsource them to collection agencies, who charge high fees and shame customers. EmpowerMe’s purpose is to make debt collection cheaper, faster, and safer by digitizing the human-centered debt collections process. We offer an AI-powered platform that provides debt counseling, negotiation, and settlement, removing shame and harassment for the debtor and reputational risk and inefficiencies for the lender.
Gene Gazer Inc.
University of Oregon (United States)
Precision medicine is the future of healthcare. The reality of healthier babies and healthier mothers is possible through personalized prenatal vitamins and nutritional awareness. One very specific change—replacing folic acid with folate in prenatal vitamins and daily food intake—can improve both the health of mothers during pregnancy as well as outcomes for the child. Unfortunately, use of folate-containing prenatals has not (yet) been adopted due to established practices, the absence of personalized genetic information, and lack of public awareness. Gene Gazer aims to develop novel methods to access precision supplementation during pregnancy and promote the consistent use of folate-containing prenatals.
University of Oklahoma (United States)
JUNO was founded to address the lack of environmentally friendly products in the reproductive health market. JUNO aims to reduce the vast volume of plastic waste generated from discarding nearly 100 million pregnancy and ovulation tests every year in the United States. At JUNO, we believe the environmental impact of pregnancy and fertility should be positive. Our company offers a line of biodegradable pregnancy tests and biodegradable ovulation tests to address every stage of a woman's journey of trying to conceive. No other pregnancy or ovulation tests currently on the market are entirely biodegradable.
University of California, Los Angeles (United States)
Leap Snacks aims to change how people snack by introducing Latin American ingredients and flavors to the United States, starting with a protein bar before expanding into other snack categories. Our first product will be a plant-based, guava or passionfruit protein bar.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (United States)
LiRA partners with patients and health systems to provide lip-reading technology that empowers voiceless individuals and advances quality medical care. LiRA is developing a next-generation artificial intelligence platform that recognizes specific facial motions associated with speech through a proprietary machine learning algorithm. Using any smartphone or tablet, LiRA’s downloadable platform translates video data into audio, thereby restoring communication for voiceless individuals. Voicelessness, or aphonia, is a debilitating condition that frequently follows life-saving airway interventions. Current communication modalities (writing, gesturing, and using picture boards) designed to overcome voicelessness are ineffective and leave individuals isolated. Using an innovative hybrid business model, LiRA will initially target at-home pre-surgery individuals (business-to-consumer), followed by urban hospitals (business-to-hospital), where most procedures resulting in voicelessness occur, offering a software-as-a-service monthly or annual subscription. Targeting 2.5 percent ($20 million) of this serviceable addressable market will allow LiRA to change the lives of up to 150,000 patients by 2025.
Thammasat University (Thailand)
Molly Ally, a delicious premium plant-based ice cream from Thailand, will allow billions of lactose-intolerant individuals to live a healthier life. We are “Heartier, Healthier, and Happier” due to a zero cholesterol, low sugar, and diabetic-friendly recipe—as well as a reduction in dairy carbon dioxide emissions. Ninety percent of 1,000 taste testers said our ice cream was “as tasty and creamy as dairy-based ice cream,” even when tested against dairy-based brands. Molly Ally provides investors with an 11 times return on a $1.5 million initial investment in five years with a $183 million market opportunity.
University of Michigan (United States)
MyAutO2, LLC is a medical technology company addressing the limitations of manual supplemental oxygen delivery with a novel oxygen therapy control system. MyAutO2’s technology will vastly improve outcomes for 25 million patients in the United States by delivering optimal levels of oxygen, while simultaneously generating cost savings and additional revenue for hospital customers by reducing oxygen weaning time during discharge. Beyond the hospital setting, our technology is applicable to the long-term care facility and at-home oxygen therapy markets, creating a better solution for the more than 75 million patients globally with chronic respiratory diseases.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
The shortage of ventilators is a universal problem that directly results in higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is a need for affordable and scalable solutions that will expand the ventilation capacity of current health care facilities that otherwise might be limited by the number of ventilators. We have developed the Individualized System for Augmenting Ventilator Efficacy (iSAVE), a rapidly deployable platform that multiplexes ventilators to expand ventilation capacity, safely supporting multiple patients using a single ventilator. iSAVE leverages off-the-shelf components readily available to intensive care unit caregivers—allowing them to conduct independent control of volume and pressure for each patient. It also incorporates safety measures to accommodate sudden patient deterioration and cross contamination, all of which can be controlled through an app available on standard commercial tablets.
Sasin School of Management (Thailand)
More than 2 billion trees are logged annually to create paperboard packaging, and more than 300 liters of water are used to make just one kilogram of paper. Recycled packaging is weak in nature, and packaging manufacturers need higher box strength at lower weight and cost. Current solutions are neither sustainable nor sufficient. Through modern cellulose chemistry and nanotechnology, ReNew developed CELLUNATE™, a transparent, naturally-sourced biocoating formula that can strengthen and extend the life of cellulose-based materials, including corrugated cardboard. With CELLUNATE™, we compete with high-grade specs using raw materials produced from waste, cut costs, and promote upcycling and the circular economy.
University of Waterloo (Canada)
SweatHeart aims to provide equipment solutions that help active individuals seamlessly integrate active living into everyday modern life. Our first product line, Pinekōn, is a portable tool that dries and kills bacteria without the use of chemicals, using a proprietary air-intake and UV light system. Unlike current competitors that focus on either drying or cleaning, Pinekōn allows you to do both while also remaining portable. Keeping you—and the ones who have to smell you—happy, healthy, and hard working.
University of Virginia (United States)
Transfoam is a Virginia-based LLC developing a cradle-to-cradle biomanufacturing platform to tackle global plastic pollution. Our proprietary bioprocess turns waste into biodegradable plastic to overcome limitations hindering the biodegradable plastic industry’s growth while subsequently offering a greener product than the competition.
Yale-NUS College (Singapore)
Bacterial diseases are an immense problem, and bacteriophages—viruses which infect bacteria only—are one of the most promising solutions. Bacteriophages eliminate only the target bacterial pathogens, unlike antibiotics, which are damaging to ecosystems. However, current methods to produce bacteriophage solutions are ineffective, non-scalable, time-consuming, and expensive. We use machine learning to revolutionize the field of infectious diseases by efficiently and quickly producing new, more effective bacteriophage solutions. We will first use our technology in the heavily overlooked agricultural sector, which has lower regulatory entry barriers than other fields. Our primary target is citrus greening, an incurable and devastating bacterial disease, which costs the United States more than half a billion dollars to mitigate annually, excluding a much greater loss in production. We will then expand into other fields by targeting bacterial diseases in agriculture, livestock production, and humans. We aim to mainstream bacteriophage solution usage and cure all bacterial (and other long-term) diseases with our technology.