After nine months of perfecting their business plans, teams competing for nearly $300,000 in cash and prizes put it on all the line April 19 at the Mendoza College of Business.
In a close contest among six finalists, Contect emerged as the winner of the $25,000 McCloskey Business Plan Competition grand prize. Christian Poellabauer and Patrick Flynn, faculty members in computer science, presented their technology for a new, instantaneous, accurate concussion assessment tool that will be particularly helpful in detecting concussions in soldiers and athletes. The service captures an individual's voice and detects subtle changes that may indicate a concussion.
Sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mendoza College, the competition is for ventures that have not been launched or are in the earliest stages of launch.
The top social venture award, the Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact, went to Green Bridge Growers, an urban aquaponics farm designed as a social enterprise to produce revenue and create jobs for highly capable young adults with autism in the South Bend community. Mendoza’s undergraduate Social Entrepreneurship class began working with Green Bridge founder Jan Pilarski last fall as she began to address this unique market opportunity in South Bend.Karen Slaggert
, associate director of the Gigot Center, believes that every participant is a winner. "We are so very pleased with the exceptional quality and diversity which was evident within our participants this year. Our goal is to set these new ventures up for success in the market by providing mentoring, networking, feedback and exceptional resources for each team. We are particularly pleased that we continue to see a large number of social ventures, those that seek to address a significant social concern. These ventures are the embodiment of Mendoza’s challenge to "Ask More of Business, Ask More of Yourself.'" Gigot Center director Jeff Bernel added, "The plans presented this year were the best I have seen. They were diverse and intriguing with each one having the potential of become a sustainable and successful future business."
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