More than 10 Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) students played the role of inventors this fall, producing creations that ranged from a self-charging lamp to an educational computer app that allows users to participate in stock trading in a game like setting. The innovations were part of the University’s first annual CU Launch program, where students interested in entrepreneurship had opportunity to learn about business basics and then create their own idea to market.
“The goal really is to give our students a chance to be entrepreneurs, and team up to form businesses around their ideas,” said Dr. Daniel Sem, dean of Concordia University’s School of Business Administration and an organizer of the launch event.
After months of preparation, the program came to a head earlier this month as four finalist teams met to compete for a grand prize of $5,000 in seed funds. On Nov. 6 and 7, the teams, each led by faculty mentors, worked to prepare their final business pitches and then presented to potential investors and a panel of external judges.
Taking home the first place award was Colin Murdy with his creation of Glow lamps. The product, a lamp with primary and secondary light purposes, is built with specialized fluorescents that glow with a short burst of light. According to Murdy, after two minutes of use, the lamp will have charged up the tube so that it glows bright enough to use for another 30 minutes.
“While it has a great market here in America, it can really make a difference in the developing world where many live in darkness,” said Murdy.
For every lamp purchased in America, Murdy says he plans to donate one in the developing world.
Another group of entrants, the Virtual Clean Room team, made up of students and mentors from the School of Pharmacy and the Information Technology department, utilized the strengths and capabilities of multiple departments to bring together their product.
Dr. Tracy Kosinski, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at CUW, came up with the idea for the virtual clean room, which seeks to give pharmacy students the opportunity to learn the safe and correct handling of intravenous medications in a setting that mimics the expensive facility operations of a real life pharmacy environment. The project then turned from an idea to a program under the construction of the Virtual Clean Room team.
“Dr. Kosinski had all the ideas and content for us and we fed off it,” said team member Nathaniel Konkel. “We brought her dream into a reality, a virtual reality.”
For their efforts, the Virtual Clean Room team and other runners-up were awarded $1,000 for the continuation of their product and business development.
However, for Konkel, the CU Launch program was about more than just winning, and he advises other students to partake in the event next year.
“It was a great opportunity to learn more about what a business is and how to interact with it,” said Konkel. “Even if you don’t win anything you’re going to learn so much.”
For more information on the CU Launch program, contact Dr. Sem at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-2778.
— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at email@example.com or 262-243-2149.
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