October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

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UW Names Fisher Innovation Launchpad Winners 

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Three student-led teams from the University of Wyoming that recently pitched their business concepts to a panel of independent judges have received funding from UW’s Fisher Innovation Launchpad.

These entrepreneurs received advising from IMPACT 307 business counselors to start and grow their business concepts and then pitch their business models for a chance to receive seed funding. This business startup competition is hosted by UW’s network of innovation-driven incubators, IMPACT 307, and is made possible by a generous gift from Donne and Sue Fisher.

“The legacy of Donne and Sue Fisher and their contributions to the university have created many opportunities for UW students,” says Fred Schmechel, interim director of IMPACT 307. “Previous participants have gone on to continue their companies, take jobs as university professors and, at NASA’s request, one company even had the opportunity to test the space launch system to take America back to the moon. Companies across the United States recognize the ingenuity and work ethic of UW students and continue to hire them.”

The three finalist teams that presented to the judges panel all offer unique solutions to real-world problems, and each has worked diligently to expand business endeavors over the last few months.

This year’s finalists receiving funding are:

— Bedrock Outdoors, a company providing educational programming to encourage individuals to become more involved outdoors in a safe and sustainable way. Targeting international tourists, Bedrock Outdoors is working to ensure that those adventuring in Wyoming are getting the most out of their experience and doing so responsibly. Emma Dixon, an environmental systems science, and outdoor recreation and tourism management double-major from Lawrence, Kan., founded the company.

— InsurXcel, a business that has developed software to provide insurance companies with current industry trends to better market themselves. Focusing on property and casualty insurance, InsurXcel provides a technology service emphasizing efficiency and cybersecurity. Finley McIlwaine and Kegan McIlwaine, both computer science graduate students from Cheyenne, founded the company, along with UW graduate Eric Edelfelt and Berney Bradley, an experienced insurance entrepreneur.

— GigaChar, a business that has developed a strategy to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide through the use of engineered biochar. With more and more corporations committing to net-zero emissions, GigaChar has devised a large-scale solution that provides these corporations with another carbon dioxide removal option for their portfolios. GigaChar was founded by Alexandra Howell, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering from Morrill, Neb., and Erica Belmont, an associate professor and head of the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“We are deeply grateful to the Fisher Innovation Launchpad for the opportunity they have given us with the awards from this competition,” Howell says. “We would like to thank the IMPACT 307 team. They were invaluable in guiding and mentoring us during the competition process. We also would like to thank the judges for their consideration of our business.”

Source: UW Names Fisher Innovation Launchpad Winners | News | University of Wyoming

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