Great business ideas earned Montana State University students thousands of dollars in prize money. The award wrapup was announced this week.

In the third annual "Big Idea Challenge" from the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and MSU Blackstone LaunchPad resulted in 12 finalists, selected from 28 applicants during the fall semester. There was a wide range of ideas - including graduate and undergraduate students from a wide variety of classes.

The students had four minutes or less to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, and then answer questions to support their plan. There were four categories - consumer products and services, health and life science, social and climate impact, and general. First place winners in the four categories each received $1,000. Special awards of $500 were also presented and semifinalists picked up a minimum of $500 each.
The first place winners go on the the national Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Competition. They will be up against 33 other schools in the U.S. and Ireland.

Trevor Huffmaster, MSU Blackstone LaunchPad director said in an MSU News release, "Our semifinalists tackled diverse and challenging problems with their ideas, and the judges were extremely impressed with all the innovative solutions and strong pitches."

The winners were:

  • Brady Underwood in Consumer Products with a portfolio investment and management tool for beginners.
  • Zeynep Nalkoc in Health and Science with a detection method and product for use in tracking neurological diseases such as Alzheimers.
  • Atticus Cummings in Social and Climate Impact with a building material made from plastic waste.
  • Devon Gwynn in General category with a device to ease muscular and skeletal injuries during construction projects.
  • Judges Choice award went to Taylor Olsen, Montana Impact Award was awarded to Genesis Chavez and Best Pitch Award and Best Idea Award were won by Nic Dzombra and Ben Hogren.

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