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BEAR Innovators Bring New Business Ideas to the Table

The next great business startup might just come from Ursinus College, where teams of students and individuals presented their original entrepreneurial ideas during the BEAR (Be Entrepreneurial and Roar) Innovation competition on April 2.

The contest, presented by the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, allows students to develop their own original innovative solutions that satisfy market or social needs. It fosters entrepreneurial skills and provides further opportunity for students to bring their ideas to the marketplace.

Student Brian Thomas won the competition for Beyond the Bars, a nonprofit organization that provides music training to juveniles involved in the Philadelphia criminal justice system, and which seeks to expand operations to the community. Thomas is the organization’s founder and a member of its leadership team. He earned a $3,500 first-place prize.

Other winners included Dominick Cohen (second place, $2,500), who created C-heat Energy, a  product designed to capture energy from the human body via a wearable device; and Alex Drum, Tim Dowd, and Jonathan Gerhartz (third place, $1,500), who created On Call, a notification system for use in emergency situations that supplements first responders. 

In addition, three teams earned “Ready, Set, Go” awards for ideas that are well developed and ready to roll out: Flow Hive (Johnny Meyers and Andrew McSwiggan), which produces organic honey using a new technology that automates the process of collecting honey; Trainwreck (Brent Garcia), ultimate frisbee youth leagues; and Tune-out (Tommy Armstrong), an entrepreneurial filmmaker preparing to produce his second film.

Chase Babrich and Josh Williams earned Best Presentation honors for Unboxed learning, which uses virtual reality technology to provide educational content to teachers.

The students were judged by local business leaders and entrepreneurs, who asked questions of the young innovators and provided immediate feedback while pointing out possible pitfalls and highlighting the potential of the business plan.

Students must also completed a market analysis, marketing plan, and financial analysis along with their proposal.

This year, the judges include Rob Gilfillan ’91, co-founder and president of Cenero; Katie Iorio Martin ’88, president and partner, Dale Carnegie Franchises; Jack Smith ’77, president of All Rack, LLC; and Dawn Chavous ’01, president of Chavous Consulting, LLC.–by Ed Moorhouse