The first phase of the UMass Amherst 2017–18 Innovation Challenge, called the MinutePitch, kicked off its 13th year of competition on October 25 with a team from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department winning the $750 second prize for its new approach to catching deadly pancreatic cancer in its crucial early stages.
A four-person team calling itself Kinase Inc. pitched a new diagnostic method: “Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancer. The high mortality rate of PC is mainly due to the lack of symptoms and diagnostic platform for early detection. We propose a low-cost, point-of-care platform for diagnosis PC in early stage.”
Kinase Inc. is composed of MIE Professor Byung Kim, MIE Professor Yubing Sun, MIE Ph.D. student Nariman Banaei, and Amir Ali Jazayeri, who has an MBA in Business Statistics from the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
The Innovation Challenge is a four-part cross-campus entrepreneurship competition that launches promising ventures to the next levels of startup. In the MinutePitch competition, each team gets one minute to pitch its idea to a panel of judges. Each team then receives immediate feedback from a mentor, who suggests how to improve the presentation and fine-tune the business idea with constructive feedback and encouragement. The top five teams get to go back in front of the judges, with each round affording the competitors more time and feedback. The cash prizes enable the winning teams to pursue expert advice, create working prototypes, or do research.
The Innovation Challenge is one of the many ways the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship serves a network of scholars, innovators, and entrepreneurs across the UMass Amherst campus and throughout the region. The center is dedicated to connecting and inspiring game-changers and helping them realize their dreams.
The competition continues on November 29 with the UMass Innovation Challenge Seed Pitch (a closed-door event), more workshops, and the two-round final competition in the spring of 2018.