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WVU’s LaunchLab Network to compete in national competition

Submitted to the Dominion Post

April 4, 2018 4:41 pm

MORGANTOWN — Two student teams from WVU’s LaunchLab Network will compete in the semi-finals at the national Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs, hosted by Smith College in Massachusetts, on Friday.

The WVU students have been selected to showcase their new ventures in the semi-finals, competing among 60 teams representing 29 schools from across the nation.

The competition is designed for undergraduate women to help develop the necessary skills to advance through the process from idea to venture creation. Through three rounds of competition, students will identify the problem they are trying to solve, explain why the problem requires a new venture, articulate how their idea offers the best solution to the problem and describe what resources, partnerships and activities it will take to successfully launch the venture.

Dental hygiene students from the School of Dentistry, Kristen Hanlan and Samantha Farley, will pitch a dental tool, the HF Magnet, which works to ensure superior dental hygiene and safety during appointments. They will demonstrate that their invention serves as a time-saving solution for all dental offices, and offers an improved sanitary solution.

Students from the College of Business & Economics will also pitch their idea called Foremme, a women’s social communications platform. Emily Kurzinski, a management information systems major, and Emily Allred, a marketing major, will pitch their networking website that specifically targets women. Their male partners from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, Curtis Ward and Stephen Eckles, both computer science majors, will be rooting for them behind the scenes.

“Half of our students at WVU are women, but female students represent just 20 percent of the entrepreneurs who take advantage of the tools and resources we offer at the LaunchLab Network,” said Carrie White, director of the WVU Morgantown LaunchLab. “Our goal is to empower all of our students to solve a problem, invent a new product or explore a potential venture opportunity. It is exciting to especially encourage our female students to compete and participate in these unique opportunities to face real investors and venture prospects at the national level.”

During the semifinals, both teams will display their ventures. The top 10 finalists will be selected to deliver a 90-second pitch to investors. More than $60,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded in addition to special awards, including Best App, Fan Favorite and Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center cash rewards.

The LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU IDEA Ecosystem, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship in WVU students, faculty and staff.