Lia Winter hopes for a “treat” the day before Halloween at “Collegiate Inventors Competition®”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Lia Winter hopes the day before Halloween offers a big treat for her start-up.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Winter Innovations LLC will be in Alexandria, VA Wednesday (October 30) as one of 10 finalists for the “Collegiate Inventors Competition®” (CIC).The annual event has named five undergraduate and five graduate student finalists for the competition at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO).

“The application process for the CIC began back in April,” Winter, who is competing in the graduate student category, explained. She recently earned two master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“I learned about the competition when the CIC Selection and Recognition Coordinator reached out to me after he learned about several of our pitch competition wins during the spring semester and invited us to apply,” she said.

Regular readers of will recall those wins included the “Louisiana Startup Prize” in August, the University of Georgia’s “Next Top Entrepreneur” competition in April, the “Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge” hosted by the University of Louisville in March, and the annual “Stu Clark Investment Competition” at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, also in March.

Those wins and the decision to select Winter for the CIC occurred before Winter’s latest first place during Knoxville’s annual “Startup Day” pitch competition on September 24. Winter developed the EasyWhipTM device used for orthopedic reconstruction procedures and told the judges at “Startup Day” that the funds would allow her to produce a sufficient supply of needles to begin the 510(K)-clearance process.

“ The application itself was comprehensive, and we spent a lot of time answering questions that addressed our inspiration for the invention, the potential impact of the invention, how the invention works, and the steps we have taken to validate and commercialize the invention,” Winter said. “The most important part of the application was a comprehensive patentability search, where we were tasked with identifying similar inventions (prior art) and explaining how our invention is different.”

In addition to presenting EasyWhipTM device to the judging panel, Winter will also have the opportunity to showcase it to the public and interact with USPTO patent and trademark examiners, sponsors, media, and the public during the CIC Expo. The event typically draws more than 2,000 attendees.

“Intellectual property is a key value driver for Winter Innovations, and patents are a crucial aspect of our business model,” Winter said. “We have filed three patent applications in the span of one year with the help of our legal counsel, Stephen Adams with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. Stephen is an incredible resource, and he has become one of our trusted advisors.”

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