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UW Student Wins $15,000 in Entrepreneurship Competition

April 24, 2017

A doctoral candidate’s idea for saving chemists, engineers and surgeons hours of time, and their employers tens of thousands of dollars, won the top prize of $15,000 last week at the University of Wyoming’s John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Levente Pap, a Hungarian chemist, pitched a wearable dictation device and software catered to specialized scientific fields in front of a crowd of nearly 100 during the competition. His startup company, Lev’sonic, won over a judging panel of seven influential Wyoming business leaders.

The competition drew 76 contestants, the most in its nearly 20-year history. Participants ranged from undergraduates to doctoral candidates, and hailed from nearly every college at UW.

The preliminary entries were whittled down to 10 finalists, who received personal mentorship from chief executive officers, business experts and tech startup founders. Pap’s winnings include a one-year membership to the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), an incubator designed to launch fast-growth tech companies. The WTBC is a partner of the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency.

Valued Energy Platform, an internet marketplace for the oil and gas industry envisioned by co-founders Greyson Buckingham, of Jackson, and John Lee, of Dubois, earned second place and $10,000. Dallin Cooper, of Riverton, and Madison Cooley, of Cheyenne, won $5,000 to pursue their startup, Atmosphere Marketing.

The once-small startup event hosted in a College of Business classroom transformed this year into an all-day UW Entrepreneurship Summit at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. Multiple panels and guest speakers provided information and insight throughout the day, and the entire event was streamed live online.

Summit officials announced next year’s contestants would compete for a prize pool of $50,000.

The Entrepreneurship Summit has inspired several startup competitions across Wyoming in the last few years, including WTBC events in Casper and Sheridan, the Fisher Innovation Challenge in Laramie and Pitch Day, a Jackson event hosted by nonprofit Silicon Couloir.

These efforts coincide with the Business Council’s goal of increasing the five-year survival rate of Wyoming startups to 50 percent. In any given month, about 280 of every 100,000 adults in Wyoming start a small business. Those businesses are the state’s economic engine, comprising 80 percent of Wyoming’s 34,000 firms.

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