Archive for the ‘Competitions’ Category

Students’ Award-Winning WalkBack App Now Available

Have you ever promised to let a friend know when you arrive home and forgotten to do it? There’s an app for that, and it was developed by U.Va. engineering students!

Students Duylam Nguyen Ngo (’13) and Ashutosh Priyadarshy (’12) developed WalkBack to increase safety on college campuses, especially for students walking home alone at night. WalkBack is a free mobile app that creates an instant mobile connection between friends by simply touching their phones together, after which each person is automatically notified when everyone arrives home. Colleges can also anonymously use the data collected from WalkBack to make informed decisions on student safety.

This award-winning app won the Student Startup Madness competition at the 2012 SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, and the 2012 U.Va.-Darden Business Plan competition.

iPhone, iPad and iPod users, download WalkBack from the App Store here.

National Disabilities Innovation Contest offers $25K Prize

Contests for innovators are popping up all over the place these days. One current national contest seeks to directly improve the lives of people living with disabilities by inventing new technologies they believe would be most helpful.

As part of World Cerebral Palsy Day 2012, more than 500 people with disabilities submitted their ideas for the “Change my World in One Minute” contest. A panel chose several finalists, and United Cerebral Palsy is offering a $25,000 prize to anyone who can bring one of their ideas to life:

  • A solar-powered motorized wheelchair
  • A fold-up motorized wheelchair
  • A documentary about people living with cerebral palsy

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2013. For more info about the contest, see the World Cerebral Palsy Day website:

16 Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Among CIT’s “GAP 50″

Breaking news: We’ve just received word from the Center for Innovative Technology‘s GAP 50 awards luncheon that 16 Charlottesville entrepreneurs made the list! These Charlottesville-based innovators and business leaders were selected by their peers as being among the top 50 “most likely to build Virginia’s next generation life science, technology, and energy companies”:

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists throughout Charlottesville and the commonwealth!

For more about CIT’s GAP 50 awards, visit For a list of all Charlottesville-area nominees, visit

Student Perspective: The Power of Startup Weekend

We asked Kyle Bye, a third-year student in U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce and president of the Entrepreneurship Group at McIntire, to write a guest blog on his experience at Charlottesville’s Startup Weekend Oct. 26-28. Read on for his take on the power of Startup Charlottesville.

Startup Charlottesville

Team leaders selected on Friday night pitch to potential team members for the weekend hackathon. Photo courtesy of Kyle Bye.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings developers, designers and business enthusiasts together to try and form businesses in a weekend. It is an exciting initiative adding another leg to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Charlottesville.

How does it work?

Friday evening, individuals line up to pitch their concepts. Teams form around the best ideas (pictured). Saturday is filled with seemingly endless work sessions, and then teams prep for Sunday’s presentations to a panel of esteemed judges and industry leaders.

Entrepreneurs are salespeople at heart, with an unyielding sense of pride and determination for their ideas. From the initial pitch on Friday to recruiting those top-notch team members and even when presenting to potential customers for feedback, it is clear that success at a Startup Weekend event can be attributed to how well you can sell yourself and your idea.

The weekend’s events are all about experiential learning.

Local Charlottesville mentors are always floating around the room to coach you on specific topics, such as UX/UI design, user validation and the business model canvas.

One of the most useful aspects for students is that you can apply skills learned in the classroom. For instance, in my Project Management class the week before the event, we were discussing the differences between the traditional waterfall method and agile methodologies. Who knew that a few days later I would be working on a team with a professional agile coach?

Kanban, scrum, stand-ups and sprints are no longer theoretical terms buried in a textbook. I am now able to fully appreciate their real-world applications as productivity drivers in software development teams.

Following these streamlined, iterative approaches led our team to focus on a minimum viable product, share ideas efficiently among our team’s diverse functional areas and build a working prototype by the end of the weekend. My team’s concept, called Spur, provides viral fundraising for charitable organizations by harnessing the power of social media.

I also had the opportunity to lead a team during Charlottesville’s first ever Startup Weekend last March. As a second-year student, I remember walking into the tech incubator downtown overwhelmed with the energy and technical talent in the room. Sure enough, I pitched my idea of an online volunteering platform called Flash Karma, selected as a finalist, and was able to receive invaluable feedback over the weekend.

One of the most amazing feelings as an entrepreneur is having a vision for a concept and then watching others connect with your vision as you work together to bring it to life. That’s the power of Startup Weekend.

Reach Kyle at

Workshops to Prep Students for Entrepreneurship Cup

Students, interested in competing in this year’s U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup? Are you looking for team members, or an idea to get you started?

Get started on the right foot by attending a Design Thinking Workshop. Held at OpenGrounds on the U.Va. Corner, these workshops will provide students with opportunities to compare interests, form teams and develop concepts for their E-Cup submissions. Business experts will also be on hand to help students craft their business concepts in the emerging style of “design thinking.”

Workshops will take place on Sept. 28 at 12 p.m., Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m., and Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. The October 2 workshop will be a part of the Venture Forward on First Tuesdays series. To learn more about the workshops and to register, click here.

We’ll also be hosting an information session Sept. 26, 4-6 p.m., in Newcomb Hall’s Kaleidoscope Room. To attend this session and learn everything there is to know about competing in the E-Cup, please RSVP to

U.Va. OpenGrounds, Vonage Sponsor $25,000 Student Competition

U.Va.’s OpenGrounds and Vonage, a national communications company, are jointly sponsoring a competition challenging U.Va. students to invent the next generation of social messaging.

The competition, which offers $25,000 total prize money, invites U.Va. undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students to submit technical or non-technical proposals with their ideas for the future of social messaging.

OpenGrounds director Bill Sherman and Vonage CEO Marc Lefar, a 1985 graduate of U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce, hosted a kickoff event for the competition at a gathering on the Rotunda steps yesterday.

For more information about the competition, click here or view the media coverage below.

Related Links
U.Va. and Vonage Challenge Students to Invent the Next Big Thing in Social Messaging (U.Va. Today 9/9/2012)
Collaborators Launch Contest (Cavalier Daily 9/11/2012)
U.Va., Vonage Partner in Social Media Competition (NBC29 9/10/2012)
U.Va. Students Take Part in Vonage Competition (Newsplex 9/10/2012)

U.Va. Student Innovator Named to Canada’s “Top 20 Under 20″

Joseph Linzon

Undergraduate student inventor–entrepreneur Joseph Linzon pitches "PowerSole" at the University of Virginia's 2011 Entrepreneurship Cup. Photo by Cole Geddy.

Rising second-year Joseph Linzon, of Toronto — whom you may recognize as the “face of U.Va. Innovation,” above — has been named to Canada’s “Top 20 Under 20.” The annual program recognizes Canadian youth whose “leadership and innovation has led to the betterment of [their] school, community, province and/or country.”

Inventor of the PowerSole, a shoe that converts kinetic energy into electrical energy with each step its wearer takes, Linzon is seeking to “empower the powerless” in developing countries. The PowerSole concept came in second overall in last year’s U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup, for which Linzon was awarded $10,000. [Read the full story.]

Congratulations, Joe!

Call for Applications to the U.Va.-Darden Business Plan Competition

The competition provides an opportunity for new business ventures by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. To enter the competition, at least one member of the team should be currently affiliated with U.Va.. Ventures that previously placed in the venture are not eligible.

The competition will be held on April 12, 2012. Submit your application for the U.Va.-Darden Business Plan Competition by April 1, 2012.

When: April 12, 2012

Where: U.Va. Darden School of Business

How to Apply: See details for submissions at

The application deadline is April 1.

For more information, visit the U.Va.-Darden Business Plan Competition.

U.Va. Students are Invited to Compete for the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge

Do you or your friends have innovative ideas for developing new energy technologies?  Then the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge is for you!

Through a a series of five regional competitions, the Department of Energy is awarding $2 million to student-entrepreneurs for new, viable clean energy solutions. U.Va. students are encouraged to enter the $100,000 ACC Clean Energy Challenge for a chance to compete for the Department of Energy National Clean Energy Business Plan Finals in Washington D.C. this summer.

Important dates and steps to remember:

March 23: Executive Summary (3 pages) and an Investor Video Pitch (3-5 minutes) are due. In this preliminary round, students compete with teams from their university.

April 10: Teams notified of advancement to Southeast Regional Competition.

April 20: Full Commercialization Plans due.

April 24-25: Fifteen teams gather at the University of Maryland to make 20-minute presentations and compete for top prizes.

For more information on the ACC Challenge, see the registration page and more complete rule, click here.

If you a student at U.Va. and you want to submit an entry, contact Professor Bernie Carlson at