Oklahoma State University student startup team VisionaRx made OSU history by winning the grand prize earlier this month from the Love’s Cup Undergraduate High Growth Division in Oklahoma City.
VisionaRx Retinal Drug Delivery is composed of OSU students Chance Imhoff, management and entrepreneurship; Jaquelyn Lane, chemical engineering with an entrepreneurship minor, and Rachel Davis, chemical engineering pre-med emphasis. The team is coached by David Thomison, clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurship and advisor for student teams at accelerateOSU, OSU’s entrepreneurial incubator program.
The team was awarded a $20,000 cash prize for taking first place in the competition and qualify to continue on to the Tri-State Competition, which hosts teams from Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma and will take place May 30-31 in Las Vegas. Lane also won the IBM Pitch Award and was awarded $1,000. This is the first time that an OSU student team has won the undergraduate division of the competition.
“The Love’s Cup competition has definitely been the highlight of my senior year and I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” Imhoff said. “Being able to use the knowledge learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-world scenario will serve as an invaluable experience."
The team plans to commercialize a nanoparticle drug delivery platform technology, developed and owned by OSU, for the treatment of retinal eye diseases. The non-invasive delivery process will utilize existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) therapeutics by placing the nanoparticles on the back of contact lenses to be worn. The technology will be less painful and less expensive than current technologies.
“This team did an outstanding job of directly applying entrepreneurship course content to an actual scientific advancement to create and formulate a viable commercialization startup business plan,” Thomison said. “In the process, they significantly enhanced their core skill sets. We are extremely proud of their accomplishments.”
Also, OSU graduate team Hepa-Cera, composed of members Duygu Phillips, MBA; Lele Pi, MBA; Vibhore Srivastava, master’s in industrial engineering, and Kalyani Ektate, veterinary biomedical science, competed in the Love’s Cup. The Hepa-Cera team was given ceramic HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter technology developed by the National Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. HEPA filters force air through a fine mesh that traps particles such as pollen and pet dander. The team was one of six finalists and won $1,000 from competing in the Graduate High Growth Division.
OSU has had past success in the Love’s Cup, formerly called the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup. MITO Material Solutions placed first in the Graduate High Growth Division in 2016, Roll-to-Roll Technologies won second place in the Graduate High Growth Division in 2013, and other cash-award category winners include Infinite Composites and Medishine.
accelerateOSU is the latest development for the School for Entrepreneurship, replacing the Student Startup Central. The division, located at 7th and Main streets in downtown Stillwater, is an entrepreneurial incubator program that houses student startup ventures and aims to leverage university and City of Stillwater resources to help bring together business ideas.
i2E is a nationally recognized, private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1998 and focuses on growing innovative small businesses in Oklahoma. Its mission is investing in entrepreneurs to build successful high-growth companies in Oklahoma and making a positive impact on the state’s economy.
The Love’s Cup is a statewide collegiate business plan competition that simulates the real-world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors. In the 12-year history of the competition, $1.6 million in cash, $95,000 in scholarships and $250,000 in fellowships have been awarded, and more than 1700 college students from 35 statewide campuses have participated.
To learn more about the Love’s Cup, visit https://i2e.org/loves-cup/.
To learn more about accelerateOSU, visit https://entrepreneurship.okstate.edu/accelerateosu/.