TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Three University of Alabama student teams are on their way to starting their own businesses after winning the Culverhouse College of Commerce’s third annual Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition.
A synthetic skin to aid in the healthcare industry, a medical surgical device with a panoramic camera created through a NASA technology project, and an application-based grocery delivery company targeting college towns are the three innovative business plan ideas that resulted in wins for the student teams.
SYNSkin, a startup company with a patented synthetic skin material initially focused on diabetic pressure ulcer care, won first place in the competition. The team includes Arnab Chanda, an aerospace engineering major, of Noida, India; Kaitlyn Curry, a chemical and biological engineering major, of Louisville, Kentucky; and Christian Callaway, a mechanical engineering major, of Tybee Island, Georgia.
Food Drop, an application-based, grocery delivery company targeting college towns, placed second. Team members are students in the Culverhouse College of Commerce and include Ethan Mergen, a finance and hospitality management major, of Birmingham; Ryan Keelin, a finance major, of Birmingham; Trey Byers, a finance major, of Birmingham; and Jake Jackson, a math and accounting major, of Wildwood, Missouri.
BioGram came in third place with their business proposal to develop a medical device for heart surgery by licensing NASA’s Panoramic Refracting Optic camera. Team members are Cory Efird, a mechanical engineering/STEM Path to the MBA student, of Chapin, South Carolina; and Ginger Morgan, a neuroscience/STEM Path MBA student, of Collierville, Tennessee.
“These students represent the next generation of entrepreneurs that will help create innovative jobs in Alabama,” said Dr. J. Brian Gray, interim dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce. “I am very proud of the high caliber entrepreneurial spirit we have here on campus. I look forward to seeing these students succeed in their business endeavors.”
The winning teams were announced April 15 at the grand finale during AIME (Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs) Day on UA’s campus.
Each of the teams already received $2,000 each to develop a prototype and specialty advising in developing their pitch, as a result of winning the preliminary round.
In winning the competition’s final round, the teams received co-working space at The Edge in downtown Tuscaloosa. They will receive specialized consulting in business development and for entry into the Alabama Launchpad Competition.
Judges narrowed down the initial pool of submitted business plans for a preliminary round, followed by the final round of five pitches to a panel of seven judges that included entrepreneurs, representatives from government agencies and business professionals.
Judges included representatives from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, the Alabama Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Greer Capital in Birmingham; Meunier, Carlin & Curfman LLC., and independent consultants.
The Edward K. Aldag, Jr. Business Plan Competition is made possible by Aldag, a Culverhouse alumnus and founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust of Birmingham.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.