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E2e Wyoming Invites Fisher Innovation Challenge Qualifiers to Speak at Laramie Meeting

November 6, 2017
group of people standing together
Marvin Perry (Turbulence Solutions), Randy Elledge (Turbulence Solutions), Dylan Knapp (REZEX), Genie Corr (To the Corr Innovations), Chris Rumple (Turbulence Solutions), Kennan Oyen (IO Therm), Sabrina Kaufmann (Emina Tech), James Francis (Monarch Mobility), Ben Weaver (Weaver Solutions), Maycee Spence (A and M Ergonomics), Nicholas Reh (Monarch Mobility), Andrew Gomez (A and M Ergonomics) and Johnny Mattison (JB Tech). Emma Jane Alexander (Emina Tech) and Brandon Preston (JB Tech) are not pictured. (Fred Schmechel Photo)

Leaders of some of Wyoming’s newest startup companies will be the next e2e Wyoming speakers in Laramie Wednesday, Nov. 15. And, they are current University of Wyoming students.

Individuals representing the nine qualifying businesses for the Fisher Innovation Challenge (FIC) $125,000 seed fund will talk about their budding businesses from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, located at 222 S. 22nd St.

The FIC was launched in spring 2016 as a new entrepreneurship competition focused on technology and innovation. The challenge was administered by the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), which seeks to catalyze Wyoming startup businesses. The FIC identified and stimulated the creation of new independent businesses in the seed, startup and early growth phase. It will provide qualifying companies an opportunity to approach a $125,000 seed fund for working capital.

“The teams pitch to our panel of judges and, really, it is all about convincing them that they are really going to do the business in the near future and that a small infusion of cash at the beginning can make them successful,” says WTBC CEO Jon Benson. “The teams aren’t competing with each other. Really, they compete with themselves.”

The qualifying businesses are as follows:

-- REZEX, founded by Dylan Knapp, a 2017 UW graduate in mechanical engineering from Orlando, Fla. Hop harvesting and conversion to the standard pelletized hop product used in beer production is not well-organized and, for small growers, pelletizing is controlled regionally by a single company. As such, hop quality is not maintained rigorously except for big brewers; small brewers sometimes even have difficulty obtaining hop product for their brewing.  

-- JB Tech, founded by Brandon Preston, a senior in mechanical engineering from Mountain View; and Jonathan Mattison, a senior in business management from Golden, Colo. The logistics of de-icing airplanes are complicated and expensive. Large airports, such as Denver International Airport (DIA), must keep large crews on staff full time during the winter months. In reality, the crews only worked 66 days de-icing planes during the 2015-16 winter. Additionally, time is a critical factor in de-icing planes. A recent reorganization of DIA’s procedures eliminated three minutes per plane of de-icing time and saved just under $6 million in jet fuel costs each year.

-- Turbulence Solutions, founded by Chris Rumple, a third-year Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering from Harrisburg, Pa.; Randy Elledge, a master’s student majoring in economics from Jackson; and Marvin Perry, a senior engineer in UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Wind tunnels have proven effective in testing wind turbine design, but most are only able to create a laminar airflow. This does not match real-world conditions. Developing an active grid that produces turbulence to correct this is a significant investment of graduate student labor and time. Turbulence Solutions has developed a removable turbulence generator that can be placed at the front of the airflow within a wind tunnel and can replicate a variety of wind turbulence simulations.

-- A&M Ergonomics, founded by Maycee Spence, a 2017 UW music major graduate from Reliance; and Andrew Gomez, a UW master’s student in music performance from El Paso, Texas. Most musical accessories and products are designed with concerns for the sound quality and not the safety of the instrument or the long-term health of the player. A&M Ergonomics will design, build and partner with strategic partners to sell accessories with a primary focus on player health and comfort.

-- Emina Tech, founded by Sabrina Kauffman, a 2017 computer science and graphic design graduate from Wheatland; and Emma Jane Alexander, an assistant research scientist in the School of Energy Resources. This company’s 3-D virtual reality technology provides services to the medical sector with a focus on the specific target customer (obesity treatment). Products are geared toward providing noninvasive virtual reality treatment for life-changing experiences such as: achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, preparing for surgery and nurturing your mental health. 

-- IO Therm, founded by Kennan Oyen, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in biology from Fairbanks, Alaska. The IO Therm heating and cooling systems are small, customizable units, designed to perfectly accommodate standard laboratory glass vials in which temperature-controlled combinatorial biology or chemistry can be performed. The unique design of the controlled-temperature block provides researchers with dramatically better options and specific sample temperature control as compared to any known commercial bulk system. 

-- Weaver Solutions, founded by Ben Weaver, a UW alumnus from Ranchester who completed the College of Engineering and Applied Science land surveying certificate program. The Weaver concept uses a high-velocity blower to blow back the fire line onto itself locally and remove the fuel side of the burn equation. The product, Fire Dragon, will provide a tool to farmers, ranchers and firefighters that does not require a water source of the traditional water-based methods.

-- To the Corr Innovations, founded by Genie Corr, a senior in mechanical engineering from Laramie. The Corr Innovations system is a fully sensored wheel assembly, designed for early detection of potential tractor-trailer wheel-hub failures. The system actively alerts a driver through on-board warnings. Mitigation of potential problems can then occur before catastrophic failure.

-- Monarch Mobility, founded by James Francis, a senior in mechanical engineering from Gillette; and Nicholas Reh, an MBA student from Centennial, Colo. Monarch Mobility has developed a wheelchair accessory that has a planetary gearing system to create an ergonomic motion, provide multiple gearing options and braking without direct wear on the hands. The accessory is believed to be able to work on any wheelchair body, but targets higher-end wheelchair users.

The FIC is supported and made possible through a financial gift from Donne Fisher and the School of Energy Resources, with administrative costs matched by UW’s Office of Research and Economic Development.

E2e is an educational networking program with chapters in Laramie, Casper, Gillette and Sheridan. It is designed to improve the climate for the startup and growth of entrepreneurial companies. Each e2e chapter meets bimonthly for 45 minutes of networking, followed by a 45-minute program. The programs feature successful entrepreneurs telling their stories, panel discussion on relevant topics and advice from experts in specific businesses.

Administered by the UW Office of Research and Economic Development, the WTBC is a not-for-profit business incubator that provides entrepreneurs with the expertise, networks and tools necessary for success.

To register, call Fred Schmechel at (307) 766-6395, or email him at fschmech@uwyo.edu.


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