University students sweep graduate team awards in Governor’s Cup Competition

Graduate teams took first, second and third place prizes plus the Lt. Governor’s Award for clean energy-related technologies

4/19/2013 - By: Deanna Hearn
Archer and Ott Jennifer Ott, CEO of EscaZyme, a start-up chemical company, accepts the $25,000 first place prize for the graduate track from Dave Archer, President and CEO of NCET.

EscaZyme Biochemicals, LLC, the gold winner of this year's University of Nevada, Reno Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, won the first place prize of $25,000 in the graduate track of the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

A $15,000 second place prize in the graduate track went to DataBeam, Inc. and the third place $10,000 winner was ElectroVentures, Inc., which also won the silver prize in the Sontag Competition.

The $10,000 Lt. Governor's Award, a parallel competition for the business plan that best employs clean, renewable or efficient energy technologies and services, went to CH4OICE.

Dave Croasdell, the Charles and Ruth Hopping Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, was honored as one of three faculty advisers of the year.

The winners were named at the ninth annual Governor's Cup awards dinner sponsored by Nevada's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET) on April 18.

"This year's winners demonstrate the diversity of students with many different business ideas from within the University's schools and colleges," Dave Archer, president and CEO of NCET, said. "We had students who were from business, computer science, mechanical engineering, chemistry and even medicine. This is the first time we've ever had medical doctors enter, let alone be part of a winning team."

EscaZyme Biochemicals is a company that manufactures component chemicals using the enzymes of bark beetles from trees in the Lake Tahoe area. The chemicals can be used as a pesticide and insect attractant to control the devastating effects the beetles can have on a forest, as well as in the scent and antimicrobial industries. The company includes Jennifer Ott, the CEO with a chemistry degree who is completing her MBA at the University this year, post-doctoral researcher Rubi Figueroa-Teran, the chief science officer and entrepreneurial champion of the project who also discovered one of the enzymes, and Claus Tittiger, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the University's College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The faculty adviser was Rod Jorgensen of the Nevada Small Business Development Center.

"We're so fortunate to be in Nevada where people support start-up companies," Ott said. "We want to thank everyone who supported us, gave us feedback and allowed us to put this company together."

DataBeam, Inc. has patented a revolutionary new way to store electronic information. Hard drives using this technology can store 25,000 times more data, can read and write data 10,000 times faster, and are 10,000 times more energy efficient than the best enterprise-class data array hard drives. Team members include Travis Anderson, M.D., MBA, J Dexter Ramsey, MBA in corporate finance, Alex Nickel, doctorate in physical chemistry, and Jacob Stever, M.D., MBA. Matt Westfield, adjunct faculty member in the Department of Economics in the College of Business, was the adviser.

ElectroVentures, Inc. (EVI) specializes in products for the $4 billion electronic dance music industry. It currently operates an e-commerce site that sells clothing, costumes and accessories for music festivals, concerts and raves across the nation. Team members include River Jangda, a senior in management and marketing, Brad Cabanilla, MBA, Richard Corn, a junior in accounting and finance, and Hayreddin Ceker, who holds a master's degree in computer science. Doug Erwin, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development at EDAWN, served as the adviser.

CH4OICE is a company that extracts CO2 from the air and converts it into renewable methanol for use as a low-cost, fossil-fuel-free, environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline. The team members include Ellen Nesbitt, University MBA student, Jacob Reid who holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering, and Michael Nesbitt, a student in business administration and management at TMCC. The faculty adviser was Carl Nesbitt, associate professor and Goldcorp Chair of Mineral Engineering in the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering.

The first- and second-place winners will compete in the 2013 Tri-State Donald W. Reynolds Cup collegiate business plan competition in May which includes winning teams from Arkansas and Oklahoma.


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