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Teams Win Awards in UW’s John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition

April 29, 2022
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UplinkRobotics LLC was the grand prize winner of the recent John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition at UW. The company was awarded $30,000 of endowed prize money and also received the $1,000 High School Choice Award. Team members are, from left, Zoe Worthen, Christian Bitzas, Oreoluwa Babatunde and Brady Wagstaff. Rob Godby, UW College of Business interim dean, is pictured in the middle. (UW Photo)

Six finalists will share a total of $63,000 in prize money after being selected as winners of the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Wyoming.

The competition took place April 22-23, both in person in the UW College of Business Building and virtually via WyoCast.

The competition, sponsored by the UW College of Business, encourages students to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading businesses. Teams enter the competition from various disciplines across the UW campus or from Wyoming community colleges. The John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition awards cash prizes to outstanding student-led entrepreneur teams showing significant business potential.

The grand prize winner, UplinkRobotics LLC, was awarded $30,000 of endowed prize funds. Team members, all from UW, are Oreoluwa Babatunde, a senior from Aremo, Oyo State, Nigeria, majoring in computer engineering; Christian Bitzas, a senior from Powell majoring in computer engineering; Brady Wagstaff, a senior from Evanston majoring in computer engineering; and Zoe Worthen, a senior from Gillette majoring in business management entrepreneurship. UplinkRobotics is a manufacturing company that specializes in inspection robotics and drones.

Eight teams were eligible to win funding from the endowed $50,000 prize, the Top Submission awards (four categories), the People’s Choice Award, High School Choice Award and the Ethical Startup Award. This year, members of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation attended the event and decided to make a special commitment directly to one of the teams. 

Other winners were:

-- Laboratory Inventory Management Systems (LIMS) was awarded $12,000 in endowed prize dollars. The company is led by Nicholas Case, a UW graduate student from Laramie majoring in geospatial information science and technology, and Shannon Albeke, a senior research scientist in UW’s Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center. LIMS is an end-to-end solution of software and hardware designed to contextualize samples first drawn from the field; as they get processed in the lab; and long after work has concluded.

-- GigaChar LLC was awarded $5,000 in endowed prize money. The company is led by Alexandra Howell, a UW doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering from Morrill, Neb., and Erica Belmont, an associate professor and head of the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering. GigaChar will provide monitoring, reporting and validation, and develop pathways for the large-scale utilization of biochar-based carbon dioxide removal. Biochar is a carbon-rich, durable material, similar in appearance to charcoal.

-- GS Solar was awarded $3,000 in endowed prize funding. The company is led by Grant Serbousek, a UW senior from Lafayette, Colo., majoring in mechanical engineering. GS Solar is a renewable energy manufacturing company, creating adjustable, easy-to-install solar mounting solutions that increase viability and output while shortening solar installation time.

Several other noteworthy awards were made possible through the support of donors for entrepreneurship at UW:

-- Top Submission, Community College Team, Central Wyoming College (CWC), ($1,000), IVIE Farms. The company, located in Lander, will provide locally grown fresh produce and meat to the Wind River Indian Reservation and surrounding communities through selling at local farmers markets and by offering a delivery service designed to accommodate local customers. Aaron Ivie, a freshman from Kinnear, majors in agroecology at CWC.

-- Top Submission, Female Entrepreneur ($1,000), GigaChar.

-- Top Submission, Social Enterprise ($1,000), GigaChar.

-- Top Submission, Best Ability to Positively Impact Wyoming ($1,000), IVIE Farms.

-- People’s Choice Award ($500), Carving the Future. The 501(c)(3) organization empowers youth through inclusive access to snowboarding and skateboarding and provides gear, programs, lessons and athletic scholarships for underserved youth. The goal of the business is to promote physical, mental and social confidence for each. Talia Atkins, from Jackson, is the company’s executive director. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and business/entrepreneurship leadership and is now pursuing a second major in tribal leadership at CWC.

-- High School Choice Award ($1,000), UplinkRobotics.

-- Ethical Startup Award ($2,500), Carving the Future.

-- Special commitment by John P. Ellbogen Foundation: A special commitment of $5,000 was made to IVIE Farms.

Students who wish to compete in the 2022-23 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition can email Josie Voight at

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