BOZEMAN — Fourteen entrepreneurial ventures have been selected as finalists for Montana State University’s inaugural $50K Venture Competition.

During the competition, which is hosted by MSU’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and its Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, the 14 ventures will compete for a share of $50,000 in prize money. Finalists will also gain access to experienced entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and numerous business network resources. In addition to competing for monetary prizes, finalists will receive feedback from judges and may capture the attention of investors.

The $50K Venture Competition originally was scheduled to be held April 16 in Jabs Hall, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A future date will be announced, and there is a possibility the competition will be held online instead of in person.

The 14 finalists were selected from among 29 entries submitted by MSU students, faculty, staff and recent alumni. The finalists are:

  • SkyCivic, which works to make government accessible and engaging through its automated chatbots — software used to conduct online conversations via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent.
  • Sky Oro, a women-centric co-working and community space designed for women who believe in building friendships first and networks second.
  • NanoMagnetic Solutions, which offers a portable device allowing researchers to obtain accurate and reproducible data to streamline drug development from engineering to clinical testing.
  • CuraVoice, which provides a novel care system for psychiatrists that combines computer-assisted case notes with built-in treatment algorithms.
  • Authors A.I., which puts artificial intelligence into the hands of published and aspiring authors. Artificial intelligence helps authors modernize their self-editing process so they can more easily write books that find large readerships.
  • DugalHealth, which offers decision-support software to optimize blood sugar control after eating for the diabetic population requiring insulin. The technology enables personalized and precise insulin dosage for meals.
  • OptimaLabs Inc., which has developed a line of cell culture supplements that support cell growth better than serum, a blood product traditionally used for this purpose. The supplements contain no animal-derived components and eliminate contamination and variability issues associated with serum use.
  • Agile Focus Designs, which provides accurate, agile and user-friendly tools for microscopists in manufacturing, science and health care.
  • Freats LLC, which has developed a food sustainability app that connects college students with excess food from catered events on campus. The app is meant to reduce food waste while lowering the number of students experiencing food insecurity.
  • PATH, which has partnered with women who have small farms in Kaffrine, Senegal, to develop a nutrition bar made of local crops.
  • Make Kin Milkweed Apparel, which makes apparel made of recycled plant-based textiles with a vision toward putting people and the planet first and engaging conscious consumers in design that has positive impact.
  • The Ant Network, which aims to change how people think about insects to help solve biodiversity and education crises using online videos, museum and science center exhibits, and in-person presentations.
  • Turtle Island Tales, a research-based monthly subscription box coupled with a web platform offering engaging resources for parents and children. The venture focuses on indigenous teachings for wellness in mind, body and spirit.
  • Success Prints, which creates products and services to help students transition to college. The primary product is a board game that challenges players to strategically manage their time in order to maximize GPA and social connections while balancing the ups and downs of college life.

As a next step, the Blackstone LaunchPad will provide the 14 ventures with additional coaching and support to help them prepare for the competition, as well as help them find solutions for their businesses during the pandemic.

The Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship offers four undergraduate options of study – accountingfinancemanagement and marketing – as well as five minors - accounting, business administration, entrepreneurship and small business management, finance, and international business. It also offers a master of professional accountancy degree, a business certificate and entrepreneurship certificate. This fall, the college reported an enrollment of 1,569 students.

MSU’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars aims to help MSU students succeed in entrepreneurship and in their careers. Housed in the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and open to all students and recent alumni in all majors, the campus-based LaunchPad enables participants to access mentoring, grow their network and access resources to accelerate the success of their business.

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