U.P. students pitch kick-starter campaigns, tech innovations

HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech entrepreneurs are getting a head start on their business ideas.

Groundbreaking apps, 3D modeling services and innovative tech products… all of these and more were business ideas pitched by Michigan Tech students at the annual Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition.

25 student ideas were pitched to a panel of 8 judges and over 200 audience members.

Michigan Tech Professor of Management and Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Andre Laplume said, “It isn’t always easy to find the entrepreneurial students. They’re in all kinds of different departments doing all kinds of different things. What this competition does is to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit of the school. It’s like shaking the tree and seeing the apples fall.”

For some presenters, the exposure of the competition was more influential than the prizes themselves. Some students used this venue to present their Kickstarter campaigns and gain community support and exposure.

4 prizes were awarded. 3 place winners chosen by judges based on the feasibility and innovation of the product and a 4th prize was awarded by audience choice.

First prize went to Superior Filament. A 3D printing material made of recycled plastic.

The group behind this environmentally friendly idea recently received a $25,000 grant to further their research. Now, they have their prizes from the elevator pitch to hit the ground running.

Co–founder of Superior Filament Cedric Kennedy said, “We can start manufacturing, at this point we’re hoping, by March or May. At that point we’ll have it ready for backers on Kickstarter.”

The students on the team are passionate and confident in their innovation. One of their first place prizes is a year of office space in the Houghton Smartzone.

Kennedy said, “We do intend on staying here and following this through. We want to keep this local and then expand as we become successful.”