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5th Annual Idea Competition Features Big Ideas for 2014

2014 Idea Competition Winners

Shown (front left to right): Nitin Simpathi (3rd Place – Indi), Patrick Wheltle (1st Place & Best Presentation – Electronic Triage), Andres Camacho & Samual Buettner (1st Place – True Greens)

The Sports Zone was packed Wednesday night, November 12, for the 5th annual UMBC Idea Competition. Nine ideas were pitched to a standing room only crowd and a panel of three judges.  Stakes were high – awards ranged from $250 to $750 and the ideas were original and very broad.

For the first time in competition history there was a tie for 1st place. Patrick Wheltle’s idea for ‘Electronic Triage Tags’ and Andres Camacho’s idea, ‘True Greens,’ both took home first place and $750 in cash prizes. Wheltle also won the competition’s Best Pitch, earning him an additional $250 in cash.

Wheltle’s idea attempts to revolutionize the current paper tagging method of triage identification, which hasn’t changed in 40 years. His idea, Electronic Triage Tags, would help to identify injured people during a mass casualty such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster when there is a high need to find people, identify them, and to get them to the hospital as quickly and efficiently as possible. The electronic tags are reusable, and transmit a minimal amount of information about the patient (gender, approximate age, treatment level, etc.) about 30 feet. Each tag would operate on a mesh network, strengthening each tag’s power and distance based on the number used.

Upon winning, Wheltle stated, “It feels really good to have won. But it isn’t the winning that felt the best. It is the vote of confidence from the judges and the facilitator saying that this idea might actually have a chance of success.”  Wheltle plans to utilize his $1,000 in winnings to “assemble a team, buy the necessary parts and try to build a basic prototype” so he can feel as confident going into the Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition in the spring as he did for this competition.

Camacho, who jumped on stage armed with a head of lettuce and two flats of micro salad greens, explained his idea was to install hoop houses, a type of greenhouse, on campus or nearby. True Greens idea is a group effort that included members of The Garden project including Sarah Miller, Tom Eliason, Samual Buettner, and Jack Neumeir. The idea is a student focused group that looks to bring in different groups and majors in a very interdisciplinary approach, e.g. engineering students could help to build the houses, environmental scientists could help with soil testing, etc. He wants True Greens to be able to supply True Grits with nutritious vegetables that “we can slather in ranch dressing.” The micro greens could also be sold in a farmer’s market fashion, or a CSA model, to students and faculty/staff.

True Greens plans to use the team’s winnings as “seed funding…literally, we’re buying seeds.” They also plan to buy soil and an automatic watering system for their space in the greenhouse. This coming spring the True Greens project will be part of the INDS 430 course curriculum and students in the class will help them grow micro greens and interface with Chartwells.

The third place spot went to Nitin Sampathi for his mobile application idea called Indi– Exploration and Exercise. The app looks to combine a person’s interests with exercise. ”You tell the system some things you love doing. It searches your area for that pizza shop and bookstore you want to find and spits out a map for you to do a 1, 3, 5…mile walk or bike ride with two stops along the way” says Sampathi. The app would also locate bike sharing sites close by and tell you where to drop it off if it’s a one way trip. He won $250 to put toward his idea which he says he will continue to develop.

Winners were chosen by a combination of scores from the voting audience and the judging panel consisting of three entrepreneurial alums: Mike Adelstein, President and CEO, Potomac Photonics, Lily Bengfort, serial entrepreneur and President, UAS Safeflight, and Peter Parker, Director of Business Development, Early Charm Ventures, LLC.

A special thanks to our participants, alumni judges, and to all the students who came out to listen and help select the winners! Congratulations to all the Idea Competition participants!