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UW’s Fisher Innovation Challenge Kicks Off Second Year of Stimulating Student Companies

March 14, 2017

The Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), a business development program of the University of Wyoming, will launch a second year of the $100,000 Fisher Innovation Challenge with three “Student to Start-Up” events this month.

“Last year, we were able to help six students develop and launch viable technology companies with the Fisher Innovation Challenge,” says Jon Benson, CEO of the WTBC. “All of these companies will be developed in Wyoming.”

One of these companies is Aktzin Systems, founded by UW Ph.D. student Dakota Roberson. Roberson, a native of Rock Springs, developed complex control algorithms which couple renewable energy production platforms -- that are highly variable -- with fast energy storage devices, such as batteries or fly wheels. The result is a steady, dependable energy source available for dispatch to the energy grid at the operator’s discretion.

“We’re already doing business. We’ve been contacted by customers and have made deals because of the press coverage of the Fisher Innovation Challenge,” Roberson says. “I had an idea, but I never had a reason to pursue it. The Fisher Innovation Challenge gave me the reason, the guidance and the means to go after it. It all started when I attended a ‘Student to Start-Up’ event on campus.”

The Student to Start-Up events, hosted by the WTBC in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be used to help students picture themselves creating their own ventures.

“We bring in successful entrepreneurs -- some of whom used to be students at UW -- and interview them about the process of creating and developing a business,” Benson says. “The students see that ‘real’ people start businesses, and the students, hopefully, begin to wonder if they might be able to do that, too.”

The Student to Start-Up events are open to all students and will include free food and feature entrepreneurs who have successfully developed companies.

-- Bright Agrotech, which sells vertical hydroponic growth systems, was started by Nate Storey while he was a UW Ph.D. student in agronomy. This company will be featured in a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources-oriented program Tuesday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 1030 of the Agriculture Building.

-- The Bison Kings is a Casper-based video game development company and was a winner in an entrepreneurship competition run by the WTBC incubator in Casper. Company representatives will be the speakers at an event Wednesday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 1045 of the Engineering Building.

-- The Student to Start-Up event scheduled Thursday, March 30, will highlight the experiences of 2016 Fisher Innovation Challenge qualifier Resono Pressure Systems. Resono was started by an engineering professor and his graduate student to provide an innovative way to measure unsteady pressure in wind tunnels. This event is at 5:30 p.m., also in Room 1045 in the Engineering Building.

For more information on the Fisher Innovation Challenge, or to apply, visit the WTBC’s webpage at www.uwyo.edu/wtbc, or contact WTBC Business Counselor Fred Schmechel at (307) 766-6399 or email fschmech@uwyo.edu.


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Chad Baldwin

Institutional Communications

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Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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