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UofSC Students Receive Seed Funding to Test Ideas Addressing the COVID-19 Crisis

April 30, 2020 | Office of the Provost

The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina, in partnership with the Faber Entrepreneurship Center at the Darla Moore School of Business and South Carolina Research Authority, jointly announced today nine student winners of the UofSC COVID-19 Ideas Challenge, combined which are receiving $9,000 to kickstart their project development. 

The idea concepts were selected from 42 entries from the UofSC Columbia, Aiken, Beaufort, Lancaster and Sumter campuses, representing diversity in solution proposals, in majors, and in doctoral, graduate and undergraduate programs. Student teams developed idea concepts, business model canvases, and project budgets using StartupWind, an online platform designed to facilitate virtual entrepreneurial development and connect advisors to startups. Volunteer judges, many of whom are UofSC alumni, scored the proposals and provided valuable feedback.  

Winning student team leaders and ideas include: 

3D Print to Flatten (Robin James, Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering): Our 3D printed and reusable face shields and mask extenders will assist first responders and front line health care professionals, keeping them safe and comfortable as they are testing people and taking care of patients infected with COVID 19. 

digitalLM (Chandler Kellogg, Undergraduate Student in International Business and Chinese Enterprise (IBCE) and Entrepreneurship): digitalLM is a one-stop-shop for wellness professionals to power up their digital presence and advocate for the power of lifestyle change.

FoodSafe (Brian Youngblood, Undergraduate Student in Mechanical Engineering): An Amazon Locker for food delivery, FoodSafe is an insulated, locking storage device with UV light that keeps your order fresh and secure. Grocery and take-out couriers can deliver to a FoodSafe in your neighborhood, apartment building, or even to a personal box on your front patio.

A Good Day for a Good Meal (Hayden Shipley, Undergraduate Student in Finance): A mobile platform that partners with local restaurants and allows users to pay what they can afford for high-quality restaurant meals.

Mask Clips (Scott Edwards, Undergraduate Student in Biomedical Engineering): Masks clips are a modification to safety glasses which allows face masks to directly attach to the glasses rather than around the wearer’s ears. 

MediChain (Morgan McGovern, Undergraduate Student in International Business and Management): Provide a blockchain-secured supply channel for hospitals and other buyers to rapidly procure authentic masks and other health products from authorized producers. Enable flexibility and robust authentication of critical products using blockchain.

PlayGround (Joey Smith, Graduate Student in International Business): An educational gaming platform that will focus on science curriculum, PlayGround can build teamwork and collaboration while being socially isolated. This program will give students a unique way to engage with their peers and studies, allow teachers to track progress, and provide families with ease of mind that their child's social needs are being met creatively.

SafePass (Michael Leonard, Graduate Student in Master of Science, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurial Engineering): The SafePass uses FDA-approved decontaminating agents to safely disinfect food and supplies outside of the home in just a few minutes.

A Touchless Solution (Benjamin Lieberman, Doctoral Student in Philosophy): We will focus on two relatively simple ways to limit the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people who touch two common objects, gas pumps and doors. Turning gas stations back into service stations where employees only pump the gas will reduce the spread of the coronavirus, create more jobs, and make people feel safer going to fill up their gas tanks. To avoid touching doors, we will provide services to convert doors with high foot traffic automatic openers.

“We are impressed with the students’ initiative, creativity and unique vantage points on how they can address challenges during this time of crisis and transition,” said Dr. Dirk Brown, faculty director of the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Enterprise. “We’re looking forward to supporting and tracking their progress. Further, we are committed to bringing together resources of the University, our strong alumni network, and entrepreneurial and innovation community to support these students’ projects.”

“As the leader in accelerating our state’s innovation economy, we’re thrilled to be able to support this project. We need to invest in the creative minds of our students and the Ideas Challenge allows us to do just that,” said Jill Sorensen, director SC Launch and executive director of SC Launch, Inc., South Carolina Research Authority.

"We are truly honored to be part of the COVID 19 contest and look forward to seeing the great ideas from the UofSC students,” said Dean Kress, director of the Faber Entrepreneurship Center. 

Volunteer judges for the UofSC COVID-19 Ideas Challenge included: 
Tim Bradford, President, The Bradford Group of Companies
Caroline Crowder, Program Director, USC Columbia Technology Incubator (UofSC Alum)
Gerald Gallagher, Venture Associate, AFLAC Corporate Ventures (UofSC Alum)
Trey Gordner, Founder, Koios Library Software (UofSC Alum)
Michael Meyers, Director of Portfolio Success, ATX Venture Partners (UofSC Alum)
Dean Kress, Director, Faber Entrepreneurship Center (UofSC Alum)
Joel Stevenson, Senior Lecturer, Darla Moore School of Business 
Dr. Kasie Whitener, Instructor of Entrepreneurship, Darla Moore School of Business and Managing Partner, Clemson Road Consulting
Jada Willis, CEO, WillisHR
Bea Wray, Author, Motivational Speaker and Co-Founder, The Millennial Women Network 

Read the full article here.

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