West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network hosted its first Women’s Pitch Competition on Oct. 26 to encourage female students to push the limits of their entrepreneurial ideas, develop products and business models and showcase the results in a tightly-timed presentation to a panel of judges.
Eight students participated and the top three contenders were awarded monetary prizes to fund their business and product development, receiving $3,000, $1,500 and $750 respectively, thanks in part to the sponsorship of the Women of WVU Leadership Council.
Courtney Burgazli, a second-year student at the WVU School of Pharmacy, took home first prize for her idea of customizing medicine through 3D-printed oral disintegrating strips. The strips would combine all of a patient’s medications into one product that can dissolve in the patient’s mouth, targeting those who have a hard time swallowing and those taking multiple medications daily, particularly the elder population.
“This award is the start of something big,” said Burgazi. “I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. Medicine is changing. I see it as a student in the classroom and I am so appreciative for my research professors’ help and guidance throughout this process. It’s so interesting that I can be a part of the evolution of medicine.”
Burgazli plans to use the prize money to attend a customized drug and 3D printing conference in December and network with speakers and attendees to receive advice and guidance as she continues her research and idea moving forward.
“Half of our students at WVU are women, but female students represent just 17 percent of the entrepreneurs taking advantage of the tools and resources we offer at the LaunchLab,” said Carrie White, director of the WVU Morgantown LaunchLab. “Our goal is to empower all of our students to develop as entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers. The Women’s Pitch Competition gives our female students a unique opportunity to prepare to face real investors and venture opportunities in the future.”
The Women’s Pitch Competition is the second of five pitch competitions to be offered by the LaunchLab Network this academic year. These pitch competitions also help prepare WVU students to participate in national competitions hosted by prominent business schools and corporations in which the judges are real potential investors.
Supporting entrepreneurs and innovators on every step of their journey, the LaunchLab Network offers everything from one-on-one mentorship to prototype development facilities, resources and connections to investors.
The LaunchLab is part of the WVU IDEA Ecosystem, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship in WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. A visual map of the full ecosystem and detailed information about the resources included in it can be found at https://ideahub.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Carrie White, LaunchLab
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