University student team wins graduate division of Governor’s Cup

Second place for graduate and undergraduate division taken by University of Nevada, Reno teams

4/22/2014 - By: Nicole Shearer
Team Irrigo has won the graduate division of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

Hot off their win at the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, University of Nevada, Reno student team Irrigo has won the graduate division of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition, awarded during a banquet Thursday, April 17. The team also won the Lieutenant Governor's Cup and $10,000 for their environmentally efficient business plan.

"The quality of teams coming from our University continues to be high," Dave Croasdell, associate professor and chair of information systems for the College of Business, said. "We are very proud of their efforts and the standard of excellence these young entrepreneurs continue to strive for."  

Led by University MBA student Brian Blair, Irrigo seeks to develop water efficient services for flood-irrigated agriculture. The irrigation systems are automated to avoid oversaturation of crops.   Second place in the graduate division of the Governor's Cup was taken by another University team, Dragonfly Energy, whose business plan focused on energy efficiency of lithium ion batteries. At the undergraduate level, University team Muse took second place for their work to aid music composition.  

"I am extremely grateful that our team had the opportunity to compete in the Governor's Cup," Cris Ruggieri, computer science and engineering undergraduate and Muse team member, said. "We have had the chance to learn a completely new skill set, and understand the finance, marketing and operations behind how a business is run."   Fellow Muse team member Justice Colby also was thrilled with their team's success.  

"Once we heard we won second place, it felt so validating to finally see the product we have worked tirelessly to create be recognized," Colby said. "It has always been a labor of love though."   As first and second place winners, all three University teams will compete at the D.W. Reynolds Tri-State Competition in Las Vegas, May 23. Winning teams from Nevada, Arkansas and Oklahoma will vie for the $118,000 prize.

Matt Westfield, faculty mentor for Dragonfly Energy, was recognized as Advisor of the Year.

"There is no one who deserves this award more," Croasdell said. "Matt was a judge for the first eight years of the Governor's Cup. He has mentored several teams during the years and took the DataBeam team to the tri-state competition last year. He is heavily involved in several efforts to mentor students and start-ups including the Entrepreneur's Assembly, Entrepreneurship Nevada and JumpStart. He is a popular teacher in our entrepreneurship minor and works closely with the Entrepreneurship Club at the University. Most of what he does is on a volunteer basis. He is truly a caring and competent advisor and mentor to many in our community."

Founded in 2004 by Nevada's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup is a competition for student teams from Nevada colleges and universities to develop outstanding business plans. Three teams from the graduate and three undergraduate teams are selected as winning finalists. Previous University of Nevada, Reno winners include EscaZyme Biochemicals LLC, Solution Bar, Mash Tool USA, and Envirohaven. The complete list of 2014 winners can be found at the competition's website. 


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