Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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February 06, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News | Kentucky hosting regional event for EnergyTech University Prize competition

Two Belmont University alumnae "dove into the Tank," so to speak, when they presented their business on a recent episode of ABC’s critically acclaimed television series Shark Tank.

From the University of Kentucky:

The University has been selected to serve as a regional convenor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national EnergyTech University Prize competition. Sponsored by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions, the event, known as EnergyTech UP, is a collegiate competition challenging multidisciplinary student teams to develop and present a business plan that leverages laboratory-developed and other high-potential energy technologies.

Student teams are competing for more than $400,000 in cash prizes as they explore business opportunities for lab-developed or other high-potential energy technologies, assess commercialization opportunities through market analysis, and present a viable business plan to industry judges.

The University of Kentucky will host its regional competition online on February 28.

From Belmont University:

Two Belmont alumnae “dove into the Tank,” so to speak, when they presented their business on a recent episode of ABC’s critically acclaimed television series Shark Tank. Since launching BarBees Bartending in 2019, Willow Sprague (International Business ’18) and Jess Blakley (Economics and Political Science ‘19) have been told that their business concept coupled with their engaging personalities would “make great TV” for the show.  

“All of those years, people were telling us that we would be a good fit,” Blakley said. “Finally, we actually looked at ourselves in the mirror and we’re like, ‘Wow. We have a business that could be viable on this show. Let’s give it a shot.’” 

The duo was chosen from thousands of applicants to pitch their mobile cocktail class business on Shark Tank’s main stage with the hope of winning the attention of a business Shark while millions of viewers watch nationwide.

Currently located in 10 cities, BarBees has scaled significantly over the past five years. A series of pivots and responses to the external needs of the market as well as to the Co-Founders’ personal need for fulfilling work has shifted the focus of the business from mobile bartending to mobile cocktail classes that curate cherished celebrations. 

The duo ended last year on a high note at the Belmont Entrepreneur Awards in December. They accepted the 2023 “Industry Impact Award” which recognized their innovation, growth, and success as an industry leader. 

From Texas A&M University:

Entrepreneurship was front and center when about 50 business and higher education leaders gathered recently at the Houston headquarters of global energy company Halliburton for a discussion titled “Shaping the Future of Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M: A Collaborative Vision.”

As described in this article, the event was designed to open discussions among key stakeholders about how the university can grow entrepreneurship across disciplines. The attendees watched presentations and discussed creating an “entrepreneurial hub” on campus to support hands-on learning, cross-pollination of disciplines, and real-world impact for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp took the opportunity to brag about students and faculty. “There are three things that all of these universities that are really good at entrepreneurship and commercialization have in common, and those are really good students, lots of research, and great commercialization,” he said.

From Clemson University:

A new entrepreneurial hub is now open for students, faculty and staff in Downtown Clemson. It’s the Brook T. Smith Launchpad, located on the first two floors of a building at 390 College Avenue.

The Launchpad provides expertise and resources to facilitate ideation, collaboration, consultation, networking and more. It brings on-campus organizations, entrepreneurial alumni, and funding sources together, while cultivating entrepreneurial thinking, ethical leadership skills and inventive research that will equip students to drive innovation and impact global businesses.  

The 9,000-square foot space and its staff have already coordinated with all of Clemson’s colleges, Clemson Athletics, Military and Veteran Engagement, and several student organizations. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was recently held for the facility.

The Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, along with its focus on educational, research, service programs and career enhancement opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, will become part of the Brook T. Smith Launchpad as Clemson expands on entrepreneurship.

From the Georgia Institute of Technology:

Researchers at the institution have developed a light-based means of printing nano-sized metal structures that is significantly faster and cheaper than any technology currently available. It is a scalable solution that could transform a scientific field long reliant on technologies that are prohibitively expensive and slow. The breakthrough has the potential to bring new technologies out of labs and into the world.

Technological advances in many fields rely on the ability to print metallic structures that are nano-sized — a scale hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair. Sourabh Saha, Assistant Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and Jungho Choi, a Ph.D. student in Saha’s lab, developed a technique for printing metal nanostructures that is 480 times faster and 35 times cheaper than the current conventional method. Their research was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

From the University of North Carolina at Charlotte:

The College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) has started a new cybersecurity outreach initiative aimed at supporting area resource-constrained partner organizations based on the college’s decades of award-winning, nationally recognized leadership in the field.

The initiative is led by Bill Chu, Managing Director of Charlotte’s CyberDNA Center; Vinicius Da Costa, adjunct faculty in cybersecurity; and Cori Faklaris, Assistant Professor of Software and Information Systems at the University. They plan to launch the pilot in March and wrap up in May, spanning about six to eight weeks.

As part of its launch, the clinic is seeking an inaugural partner organization located within approximately 50 miles of the University. This first client should be in the private, public or nonprofit sector that currently does not have the resources to perform its own cybersecurity threat modeling and risk assessment.

The first client will work closely with Chu and Da Costa’s students to assess their current cybersecurity capabilities in a time when business crippling cyberattacks have become common. At the end of this semester, students will provide the partner organization with a comprehensive and actionable list of recommendations for how the client organization can best improve their cybersecurity based on their analysis, free of charge.

From the University of Michigan:

Innovation Partnerships, a unit of the Office of the University’s Vice President for Research, was recently awarded $5 million by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to establish the Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund (MUICF) and the Michigan University Innovation Capital Consortium.

This new fund will solidify the state’s university research commercialization ecosystem through a collaborative partnership among the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan State University Research Foundation, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, and Michigan Technological University.

The MUICF will drive economic development statewide by supporting the growth of university startups from Michigan’s public universities.

Click here to learn more.

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