Excitement was in the air as the Skandalaris Center presented The Washington University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards, honoring students, alumni, faculty, and entrepreneurial community members for their efforts and dedication to the WashU entrepreneurial ecosystem. With more than 100 people in attendance, the Skandalaris Center recognized graduating students, exemplary members of the entrepreneurial community, and awarded more than $75,000 in non-dilutive funding to WashU startups.
Beverly Wendland, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, welcomed attendees and shared a few opening remarks. She recognized the Skandalaris Center for their contributions to the innovative community at WashU in support of the Here & Next strategic plan. She then introduced Bob Skandalaris, Chairman of Quantum Ventures, who shared a brief history of the Skandalaris Center. He spoke about why the Skandalaris Center was created and shared, “I think entrepreneurs create jobs – good jobs. I think they build industries. They create technologies and build technologies. They take risks. They’re rewarded and they fail a lot more than most people.” He spoke about some of his own experiences and concluded with three simple words of advice to entrepreneurs: “Pursue your dreams!”
II Luscri, Managing Director of the Skandalaris Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, then took the stage and recognized nine graduating students who previously owned businesses on campus through the St. Louis Student Enterprise Program (StEP). Thirty-four additional graduating students were recognized for earning Honors in Innovation and Entrepreneurship by showing exemplary involvement through a combination of curricular and co-curricular activities.
The celebration continued as Luscri announced the Skandy Awards. The first award, Excellence in Mentorship, recognized three mentors who have dedicated their time and resources to entrepreneurial students, and who are truly making a difference within the WashU community. Next up was the Excellence in Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship award, which recognized two students and one startup which have greatly impacted and improved the entrepreneurship ecosystem at WashU. Check out our blog post to learn more about the award recipients!
“It is inspiring to see such a strong commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship at Washington University. Mentors and students alike are working diligently to nurture and support the greater entrepreneurial ecosystem. We look forward to seeing the continued growth and success of WashU startups, students, and community members in the future.” said Luscri.
The sense of anticipation could be felt throughout Holmes Lounge as the moment finally arrived that so many (including the 18 finalist teams) were waiting for. Luscri announced the winners of the Global Impact Award (GIA) and the Skandalaris Venture Competition (SVC). Earlier today, after months of working with the Skandalaris Center and mentors from the entrepreneurial community, the GIA and SVC finalists gave their final presentations to a panel of distinguished judges, who evaluated each team on their startup’s idea, target customers, value proposition, industry trends, a minimally viable product or service, financial modeling, traction, team, and overall presentation.
The winners of the Global Impact Award were selected based on the mission set forth by the generous donors of the award, Suren G. Dutia (BS ’53, AB ’67, MS ’67) and Jas K. Grewal, which prioritized scalable, sustainable, for-profit, and quick-to-market ventures with a proof of concept for a broad impact. Two winners, Armor Medical and King of the Curve, were both awarded $25,000 in non-dilutive funding. Armor Medical is for obstetric providers who need to identify patients at risk for postpartum hemorrhage, Maternal aRMOR is a biomedical device that enables diagnosis of early hemorrhage when inexpensive and accessible interventions are most effective. Leonid Shmuylovich (MD/PhD ’15), Christine O’Brien, Kelsey Mayo
King of the Curve, turns student stress into student success through engaging and high-quality test prep. The venture aims to help students score top marks on rigorous standardized exams including the Medical College Admissions Test, the Physician Associate College Admissions Test, the Dental Admissions Test, and the Registered Dietitian Exam. Heath Rutledge-Jukes (MD ’26), William Kelly, AndrewPaul McIntosh
Through the generous support from Skandalaris Center National Council member, Kishore Kanakamedala, and additional sponsors Lewis & Clark AgriFood, NSIN, AAA Translation, Inc., Dr. Morin Hanson, and Eden Global Partners, SVC winners were awarded a combined total of $28,500 to help fund their startup businesses.
The Skandalaris Center team reviewed a record-breaking 90 entries for this cycle of SVC and worked to create a funding structure that could support as many teams and innovators as possible. For the Spring 2023 SVC cycle, three levels of funding were created to award in the finals. This new structure has allowed the Skandalaris Center to provide funding for ventures at various stages in their development.
- Exploration Funding (up to $2,000): This fund supports startups that the Skandalaris Center believes are on to something and need additional support to move forward. Three teams were awarded funding at this level: Lumilin Therapeutics, Magnifi, and Papertrail.
- Proof-of-Concept Funding (up to $5,000): This fund supports companies that are building an minimal viable product (MVP), or have a proof of concept that needs some refinement. One team received this funding: Contrast AI.
- Launch Funding (up to $10,000): This fund supports startups that are launched and ready to take those next steps in growth and development. Three teams received launch funding: ChiChi, Ice Cream for Bears, and Top Tutors for Us.
“It’s been an exciting semester and SVC cycle. From the 90 teams who started the competition to the final 12 represented here tonight, we’re so proud of the innovators here at WashU. Our student founders continue to amaze us with their hard work, passion, and willingness to learn and grow,” said Cyril Loum, Assistant Director of Venture Development at the Skandalaris Center. “I encourage any WashU students, faculty, staff, or alumni with a venture or new idea to connect with the us at Skandalaris. We’re here to help you and your ideas succeed.”
Applications for the next cycle of the Skandalaris Venture Competition will open in August 2023. All current WashU students and WashU alumni within one year of graduation with an early-stage venture or idea are encouraged to apply.
The 2024 Global Impact Award competition will open in November 2023. All current WashU students, postdoctoral researchers, and recent alumni within ten years of graduation who are creating ventures that are scalable, sustainable, for-profit, and quick-to-market with proof of concept for a broad impact are encouraged to apply.