A student startup company focused on developing innovative high-performance plastic and rubber materials has won this semester’s Vol Court competition.
Grow Bioplastics and its lignin-based plastic and rubber products took first place at the fall 2014 Vol Court Pitch Competition this week, beating out four other potential startups for the top prize. The company uses lignin, a waste stream from the pulp and paper industry, as opposed to petroleum, which is typically used in the manufacturing of plastics and rubber.
Jeff Beegle and Tony Bova, both UT energy science and engineering doctoral students and graduate research fellows of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, pitched their idea before a panel of local judges. Other Grow Bioplastics team members are Missy Showers and Robert Brese, also UT energy science and engineering doctoral students and Bredesen Center fellows.
The team won $1,000 provided by the UT Federal Credit Union, one year of free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and legal advice from Morehous Legal Group.
Second place went to Knoxville-area entrepreneur Michael Bowie and Barboards, a company that provides low-cost advertising on coasters at bars and restaurants. Bowie won $500 provided by Launch Tennessee, six months of free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services from Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and legal advice from Morehous Legal Group.
“We were very impressed by the quality of the pitches this year,” said Tom Graves, director of operations for the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “All of the business ideas presented were excellent. The teams really took what they learned from the Vol Court speakers and applied it to their business models, which is exactly what we want to see happening.”
The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the fall 2014 Vol Court Speaker Series. Prior to pitching, teams attended five entrepreneurial lectures.
Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty and staff, and members of the local community. It is made possible through sponsorship from the UT Federal Credit Union, UT Research Foundation, Launch Tennessee, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, and Morehous Legal Group.
For more information on the Anderson Center and its programs and competitions, visit the website.
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