Erica Grant wins “Stu Clark” competition, becoming second UTK grad student to do so

A little bit later on Friday afternoon, just hours after PYA celebrated the three winners in the inaugural “Ballard Innovation Award” competition, there was more good news for another Knoxville-based start-up, albeit one that took 12 months to marinate.

Last year at this time, Erica Grant, then a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), had planned to be in Winnipeg, Canada for the “Stu Clark Investment Competition” hosted by the University of Manitoba. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, and global travel came to a screeching halt.

For the Founder of Quantum Lock Technologies LLC, it was a disappointment, but she had a second chance this year in the slightly renamed “Stu Clark New Ventures Championship: Graduate Edition,” and Grant made the most of it, taking the top prize and the $20,000 in Canadian currency. For good measure, she also placed third in the elevator pitch competition, securing an additional $750.

It was the second time in three years that a UTK student walked away with the top prize. Then UTK graduate student Lia Winter of Winter Innovations Inc., developer of the EasyWhipTM device, won $21,500 in the 2019 competition (see article here).

“It was an honor to participate in the ‘Stu Clark New Venture Competition,’” Grant told us via text shortly after she was announced as the winner. “The judges had great feedback, and it was great to see the pitches from all the other U.S. and Canadian companies. We will be using the funding to expand our IP internationally.”

Quantum Lock Technologies is focused on revolutionizing security and convenience in the hotel market before expanding to many vertical markets that require high security devices like the one she has developed.

Grant, who is currently participating as a member of Cohort 4 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program, was pitted against three other start-ups on Thursday. She bested those for the opportunity on Friday to compete against three other teams that had one their flights. Those finalists were:

  • Viridis Research Inc. from Simon Fraser University that is focused on transforming how humans use water globally and correct the systemic socio-economic problems that are directly caused by this lack of access to drinkable, useable water.;
  • Birthwrite Technologies LLC from the University of Louisville (no other information available); and
  • ReGen Technologies from the University of Arkansas that developed a vascular graft based on a patent-pending technology that significantly reduces vascular surgery-associated risk and health care costs.

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