Rice University startup pitch competition names 6 finalists
Six student-founded startups are headed to the finals of a Rice University pitch competition — and this round is where the money is on the line.
The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, open to undergraduate or graduate students in the spring as well as alumni in the summer, started in 2017 with 15 student-run companies vying for a win. The 2022 edition saw participation from almost 200 students and a record 84 teams. The Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship whittled those entries down and, after the first round of judging on March 24, six teams are headed the the finals.
The startups will make their pitches in-person at Rice University on Wednesday, April 20, starting at 5:30 pm and compete for over $75,000 in equity free funding.
These are the six student-led startups that will pitch at the finals are:
AutoEdge is an artificial intelligence-powered quality assurance platform that assists small and medium manufacturers to quickly detect defects and provide clear actionable items to fix inefficiencies.
- Alfredo Costilla Reyes, Post-Doc – Computer Science, 2023, The DATA Lab led by Professor Ben Hu
- Kwei-Herng Lai, M.S. – Computer Science
- Daochen Zha, M.S. – Computer Science
Berman Foods is a artisanal plant-based cheese and spread creator that uses nutritious ingredients.
Founder: Delaney Berman, MBA, 2022
Another food-focused startup, EpiFresh is emphasizing fresher ingredients and less waste. Their healthy and sustainable protein-based coating doubles the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables, reducing waste by delaying decay as it moves from the farm to your fridge.
- Neethu Pottackal, PhD – Materials & Nanoengineering, 2024, Professor Pulickel Ajayan’s Lab
- Aasha Zinke, Materials & Nano Engineering, 2024
GradGenius is designed to provide users — those looking for a higher education opportunity — a one-stop-shop experience to selecting schools based on personal interests.
- David Akpakwu, MBA, 2023
- Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha, MBA, 2023
Guildata provides global health organizations with data that shows the greatest return on investment, by reduction in morbidity and mortality, for public health interventions in a non-disease centric approach.
- Stephanie Pons, MBA, 2022
- Kurt Reece, MBA, 2022
- Ryan Jensen, MBA, 2022
Helix Earth Technologies
Helix Earth Technologies is helping save our planet by helping power plant operators reduce their plant water use and subsequently reducing their overall operating costs.
Founder: Rawand Rasheed, PhD – Mechanical Engineering, 2023, Professor Daniel Preston’s Lab