Entrepreneurship and Innovation Are Alive and Well at Umass Dartmouth

Filed in Featured, General, Innovation, Student Success by on June 1, 2016

UMD start up weekend

This spring, Umass Dartmouth held its 3rd Startup Weekend event. With almost 70 participants from across campus, it was by far the most competitive Startup Weekend yet. Undergraduate and graduate students, including a couple of PhD candidates, participated to either work on their own ideas or to help others with their proposals. The weekend started on Friday with over 20 people pitching their business idea. These included “Pixel Focus”, which was an ambitious idea for creating eye glass lenses which can autofocus,  “Awaken”, an app that would provide a new way for users to wake up in the morning, Venue, an advanced travel mobile app, and “Job Catcher” an app that would target service sector employers. All of the participants got to vote on the ideas and 8 were chosen.

Teams worked late into Friday night, and some into Saturday morning, to begin the process of building their businesses. On Saturday, business mentors and experts began meeting with the teams to help with issues like business formation, intellectual property protection, marketing, and market validation. By Saturday afternoon, all of the teams had conducted market research, were identifying target customers, and were working to develop a Minimally Viable Product (MVP). The event was held at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) so all of the teams had access to the Machine Shop and Prototyping Lab, with the Lab manager Ed Spring on hand to help the teams with building their products.

By Sunday afternoon, all 8 teams were ready to make a 5 minute pitch to a panel of judges that consisted of investment professionals, business consultants, and marketing experts.  We are proud to announce that the weekend’s winning team was Life Sync, a team primarily made up of PhD students from the Umass Dartmouth College of Engineering.  Life Sync, in just 54 hours, developed a prototype, using the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 3D Printer, of a “carboximeter” which can provide help to people who suffer from chronic COPD.  Our panel of judges also selected teams “FootStep” (GPS tracker for tracking your stolen items in real time), “My Local Storage” (a temporary secure storage facility for students), and “AdviseU” (an application to make academic advising easier for students) as runners-up.

This event was proudly sponsored by the UMass Dartmouth Charlton College of Business, Optimal Partners, and the UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). This event was part of an ongoing effort to build a culture of entrepreneurship on campus. In addition to the Start Up Weekend, Umass Dartmouth also showed their continual push towards entrepreneurship with the Grand Maritime Innovations Conference.

table at the UMD grand maritime event

On April 28th, the Umass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) held its second annual Grand Maritime Innovations conference, which brought together almost 200 attendees from the marine technology industry. Throughout the day, attendees learned about innovations taking place in navigation systems and within the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) and Unmanned Maritime Vehicle (UMV) sectors. In addition, 9 companies had the opportunity to deliver a 5-minute “elevator-pitch”.

“We need to hold our spot of being the most innovative state in the nation”, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said during her kick-off of the conference. Among other keynote speakers, Dean of the Umass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST)  Steve Lohrenz, showcased the capabilities, and current research efforts, that the University has to offer to the marine technology industry, and the Director of the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) James Bellingham, discussed many of the macro issues, that are, or will be, impacting the entire industry.

“The Umass Dartmouth’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is playing a lead role in bringing the entire marine tech industry together,” stated Toby Stapleton the Director of the CIE, “This was a great opportunity to feature both established and startup companies to discuss the rapid technological changes now going on throughout the entire sector.”

This event was proudly sponsored by our premium sponsors, including: Hydroid Inc., UMass School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), Boston Engineering, and Maxon Motors. The event sponsors included MacArtney Underwater Technology, OceanServer Technology, Inc., Teledyne Marine, Barlow, Josephs, & Holmes, Baker Hostetler, IXBlue Inc., SLN Marketing Communications, and Hypack. The CIE will host a Maritime Innovations conference on December 1st, 2016.

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