By Leslie Rylke
The Chester County Economic Development Council, through its Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n) startup initiative participated in the 7th Annual West Chester University (WCU) Business Idea Competition on April 17. i2n partners with educational institutions like WCU and other partners to create an ecosystem that provides regional support for innovation and entrepreneurship. This Business Idea Competition is just another example of how the partnership promotes creativity, idea generation, and entrepreneurship by recognizing innovative ideas for new products, services, and technology.
The competition, organized by WCU’s Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, began in February when 362 individuals submitted 179 ideas for new business concepts. The ideas were reviewed by business angels, entrepreneurs, and business advisors who narrowed the list to 25 teams. Those 25 teams consisted of entrepreneurs from high school, college, grad school, and startup tracks who competed for the title of best business pitch and a $2,500 grand prize. Those 25 teams competed in front of live judges in the “fast pitch” round, with eight teams invited to the final pitch on April 17.
“I think the sheer number of contestants—and the quality of those ideas—speaks to the creative and entrepreneurial spirit being cultivated at West Chester,” said Patrick Hayakawa, i2n director and a judge for the “fast pitch” round. “It was an extremely competitive group.”
For the first time, the Pitch Competition included an invitational international track. Two student teams from Beijing Union University participated. West Chester University is planning to send a team of students to Beijing in 2020 to participate in a Chinese National University Business Idea Competition.
Health care and technology-related concepts carried the day. The grand prize went to U-Check-It, an integrated non-invasive health monitoring system that tracks stress and opioid usage in real time. This wearable device will allow prescription opioids to be dispensed only as directed. It will also be able to monitor a person’s stress levels. The U-Check-It team was led by Alfred Bedell, Alice Bedell, Franklin Chukwu, and WCU’s Susan Gans.
This year’s pitch event was sponsored by Meridian Bank and Univest. The 7th Annual Business Idea Competition was co-hosted by the Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic, and The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. With support from Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n), an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council. U-Check-It and Tail Win!, the winner of the Chester County Startup Track, will both receive complimentary access to i2n startup services as part of their award.
Learn how i2n helps entrepreneurs and innovators at www.i2npa.org. Check out the Techstars Chester County Startup Weekend from May 31 through June 2, organized by i2n, WCU, and Penn State Great Valley.