15 Ventures to Compete for Slot in Innovation Challenge Finals

February 27, 2017

At the Innovation Challenge Semi-Final this Wednesday, March 1, judges will hear pitches from 15 teams hoping to be selected to compete in the Finals this April. Our teams consist of 30 undergraduate students and 8 PhD candidates from departments all over campus including Computer Science, Plant, Soil, and Insect Science, Management, and Civil & Environmental Engineering. Some of these ventures have been awarded prizes in the Innovation Challenge competition in the past, while some of these ventures are new to the competition and the Berthiaume Center’s services. 5-7 teams will be selected to move on to the Innovation Challenge Final to compete for up to $65K for their ventures. The Innovation Challenge Final is the culmination of the year-long Innovation Challenge event series, and is open to the public. It will be held in the Amherst Room of the Campus Center on April 6 beginning at 5:30 pm. Good luck to all Innovation Challenge ventures at the Semi-Final!


A special thank you to our Innovation Challenge sponsors:

Gold Level:


The Heiser Family Fund

Art and Barbara Elkins

Silver Level:

John and Sally Burke

Kumar Ganapathy

And to our Judges for agreeing to serve at the Semi-Final:

Matthew Bannister - Vice President Corporate Responsibility Peoples Bank

John (Jay) Shwartz – CEO AcuityBio

Larry J Yusuf - Professional Practice Accounting Resident at EY

John Burke - Assistant Corporate Controller at GSI Group


GreekWizard is a venture formed by undergraduate students Raymond Leo, Thomas Peck, and Jegan Sivakasiulaganathan. They have formed an all-in-one management application that assist fraternities and sororities with their dues collection, alumni relations, event planning and more.

PhD candidate in Computer Science Addison Mayberry will be pitching his venture CognitEyes, which makes affordable eye-tracking glasses that people will actually wear for use in medicine, transportation, and other industries.

Ag Rowe Intelligence owners Paul O’Connor and Levi Lilly have been involved in the Innovation Challenge since the fall and won $3,000 for their venture at the Seed Pitch. Ag Rowe Intelligence makes automated data collection and analysis systems for agricultural research, production greenhouses, and golf courses.

Sygentic is a startup with a vision to provide the world with safe, effective, and resistant-free products to address the world-wide danger of antibiotic resistance. Sygentic was a $3,000 winner of the Innovation Challenge Seed Pitch this year as well and is headed by graduate student Ryan Landis.

PhD candidates Felipe Navarrete, Pablo Visconti, Ana Maria Salicioni, and David Martin will be pitching StarSperm, a product that has the potential to replace current standard media and to revolutionize Assisted Reproductive techniques in different mammals for benefit of humans.

Aviator is a FinTech whose aim is to design software that targets inefficiencies in alternative markets such as those found within the virtual gaming community. This venture was created by undergraduates Eli Bucher and Andrew Bachman.

App Outreach LLC competes in the Innovation Challenge every year as well as startup weekend event ULaunch @ UMass and hack events. The team consists of Isenberg undergraduates Aleric Heck, Davis McVay, Rich Sadick, Jordan Ames, Matthew O'Connor, and Lauren Tse-Wal. App Outreach LLC provides all-inclusive mobile marketing services to help app companies consistently reach high quality users at scale and on-demand.

Ignite Mind and Body is also a venture spearheaded by Isenberg undergraduates Jake Bernstein and Robert Russell. Ignite researches and develops high quality supplements to empower their customers in reaching their full potential and enjoying their lives to the fullest.

FiB is a venture that has received a lot of attention this year for their chrome extension that detects fake news on Facebook. A controversial topic coming to a head after this year’s election sparked undergraduate Nabanita De to construct her team and solve a serious media issue.

Pravishta Nadella is an undergraduate who will be bringing Innopact to Innovation Challenge for the first time. Innopact is a smart city start up that aims to create a unified smart vehicle ecosystem using low cost tech.

Brodly is a software development and media company which specializes in the development of media content (video, photography, and music) and mobile applications based around current trending topics. Undergraduates Stephen McKinney, Zander Bobronnikov, Antonio Borges, Tom Leary, and Cameron Kluza brought home some money from this year’s ULaunch @ UMass and are hoping to see it through to this year’s Innovation Challenge Final.

We’ve Met is an app that aggregates all social media apps into one place, as well as stamp the time and location where you added a new contact to help remember and organize all of your contacts neatly. The application was developed just this year at ULaunch @ UMass by Molly Palmer, Nico Cotto, and Corey Smith.

Socialopolis is a virtual and augmented reality development firm focused out of Western Massachusetts. We are currently focused on an AR social media app that will bridge the gap between the real world, mankind, and social media. Created by Jacob Ayers, Efran Himel, Brianna Wooten, Rohit Kalepalli, and Karen Cevallos, this is their first time pitching at an Innovation Challenge event.

Julie Bliss Mullen is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering that will be pitching ElectroPure. She has developed a water treatment device for homes and small community systems (e.g. schools) to combat diverse water quality issues at a competitive price.

ARBioDesign members Rune Percy and Alex Smith won some money at this year’s Seed Pitch and are pitching their idea again at the Semi-Final. ARBioDesign is developing a device that can quickly, easily, and inexpensively analyze a drop of blood to improve current, outdated dialysis treatment.


Topics: berthiaume center, Entrepreneurship, innovation, innovation challenge



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