UR student ventures earn statewide honors

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The University of Rochester won big at the New York Business Plan Contest, an intercollegiate entrepreneurship program. Photonect received the grand prize and Bio-Spire was named first-place winner in the Health & Wellbeing track.

The awards were announced last week at Venture NY, an event focused on startups and innovators, hosted by the Upstate Capital Association of New York. Upstate Capital has led the NYBC competition for the last five years. 

“This program has impacted more than 6,000 students since its inception in 2010, with more than $150 million of economic impact that can be attributed to student-led ventures that have gone through the program, and hundreds of innovations that have led to commercialization over the past decade,” says Noa Conger-Simons, Upstate Capital’s president and CEO.

Photonect provides fiber-to-chip attachment solutions for telecommunications companies with technology that offers a 10X time savings compared to current standards. The team received $15,000, and mentorship and networking opportunities. The business was founded by Juniyali Nauriyal and Sushant Kumar.

Focused on diagnosing sepsis from biomarkers in sweat, Bio-Spire has developed a noninvasive way to monitor sepsis in real time. The Bio-Spire device was designed by a team of undergraduate students using environmentally friendly and affordable materials.

Through the contest, NYBPC aims to develop entrepreneurial mindsets and skills, help with building personal networks connecting students to organizations in the state, and launch new ventures. 

Student teams from across the state compete at the regional level and two rounds at the state level. Each team participated in one of six industry tracks: Food & Agtech, Safety, Power & Mobility, Health & Wellbeing, Media, Art & Entertainment, Software & Services, and Products & Hardware. 

The NYBPC is supported by more than 100 people and organizations with personal donations and corporate sponsorships, including NYSTAR, the SUNY Research Foundation, NY Ventures and the Techstars Foundation. 

In total, the NYBPC awarded $50,000 in cash prizes. Here are the other NYBC winners:

First-place track winners

■ Food & Agtech: Happy Loose Leaf Tea, Syracuse University

■ Safety, Power & Mobility: KLAW Industries, Binghamton University

■ Media, Art & Entertainment: Open Beats, University at Buffalo

■ Products & Hardware: Photonect, University of Rochester

■ Software & Services: Lawn Admin, Siena College

Special prize winners

■ KeyBank Healthcare Founder: Maternal Health Monitoring Service, SUNY Polytechnic Institute 

■ Gryt Award: Step 2,3, SUNY Purchase

■ Tech Garden Special Prize: AI Learners, Cornell University

■ Genius NY Prize: Small Farm Automation, SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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