Thursday April 28, 2016 0 comments
FORT COLLINS -- SiVEC Biotechnologies won the $20,000 top prize at the Colorado State University Collegiate Challenge pitch competition on Wednesday.
The company, a CSU research spinoff headed by former student Lyndsey Linke, is developing antiviral products for the commercial poultry industry.
The startup also won the $2,000 People’s Choice Award based on votes from those attending the annual business pitch competition.
As the overall Collegiate Challenge winner, SiVEC Biotech is automatically pre-qualified to pitch for the $250K Capital Championship (formerly the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge) to be held in Los Angeles in June.
Linke told judges that her company’s product – SiVEC-AIV – can be rapidly applied to prevent avian influenza virus in poultry and protect a $220 billion global poultry industry.
“Our technology can be delivered in aerosol to treat thousands of birds in a matter of hours,” she said.
Linke said she has received interest from the USDA and large animal health companies – particularly in light of recent bird flu outbreaks in North America.
“Several big animal health companies have expressed interest in our technology,” she said. “They want a solution to this outbreak, and we have the solution.”
Linke said the company’s best route to success is through licensing its technology to a large pharma company such as Merck.
Linke said the patent-pending product is based on years of research she conducted while a student at CSU. She said the product can be used in response to bird flu outbreaks or as a suppression tool to protect flocks from the disease.
Linke said the potential for her company’s “revolutionary product” is enormous.
“SiVEC Technologies holds the key to addressing bird flu worldwide,” she said.
Taking the $5,000 second-place prize was IgnoreU, another CSU-based startup that offers a spam filter for digital content.
IgnoreU’s mobile application lets users control how they consume content by allowing them to ignore content they don’t care to see and only see content they like.
“You can ignore topics with a single push of a button,” said Carmello Mannino, IgnoreU CEO.
Mannino said the app is free to users and paid for by content providers who can more directly target their content and ads.
“We can help them put the right ads at the right place at the right time,” he said.
“We can help ad platforms make more money by increasing their click rates.
“We’re focused on creating the best Internet filter,” Mannino told judges.
The all-day 2016 CSU Collegiate Challenge included 14 student-led business teams from Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Arizona.
All of the teams had the opportunity to have their pitches polished with the help of Rockies Venture Club, a Denver-based investor association.
The event also included the annual CSU Ventures Innovation Symposium Poster Session that featured the most innovative research currently under way at CSU, this year spotlighting 45 research projects.
Taking the $1,000 Best in Show prize was Thor Hogberg and Kyle Green, whose research focuses on reducing harmful soot in chimney stoves for developing nations.
Keynoting this year’s Collegiate Challenge was Jeremy Ostermiller, CEO and founder of Denver-based Altitude Digital, one of the fastest-growing and most successful companies in Colorado.
Ostermiller, a 2003 CSU graduate, is a serial entrepreneur and was named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.
Altitude Digital is an online video advertising company (click here for a recent InnovatioNews story on the company).
Ostermiller said he wished there had been a Collegiate Challenge when he was attending CSU and urged startup founders to be passionate and determined in the face of long odds against startup success.
“As a business owner, the odds are against you,” he said. “You need an entrepreneurial mindset, because starting a business is a lot more than a job – it’s your life.”
Ostermiller said successful entrepreneurs must be passionate, be problem solvers, have perseverance and develop a strong peer group.
“Every day’s a roller coaster,” he said. “You need a strong peer group – family, friends and people in the business world who know what you’re going through.”
Ostermiller said he started Altitude Digital with $500 in 2009 – the depths of the Great Recession – and last year had an offer to sell his company for $150 million.
But Ostermiller said he turned the offer down.
“I’m passionate about this business,” he said. “We’re not stopping. We have a lot more to accomplish.”
Christine Chin, interim director of CSU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, said the 2016 Collegiate Challenge was another great event showcasing exciting future potential.
“We thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your companies and how they will impact the world,” she said.
“I was impressed, and we look forward to great things from all of you in the future.”