First-year undergraduate Connor MacFarlane of the Chemical Engineering Department won $5,000 at the UMass Innovation Challenge Seed Pitch on November 20 for his Improved Insulin Delivery venture. The Seed Pitch was the second stage of the four-part Innovation Challenge. MacFarlane’s groundbreaking idea is an improved insulin delivery system for all diabetics that reduces pain, plastic waste, the amount of supplies they need to carry, and the amount of time spent managing their disease, thus “allowing for a life with increased happiness and freedom,” according to MacFarlane.
MacFarlane also triumphed in the first stage of the Innovation Challenge on October 16, when he won the Minute Pitch and earned a first-place prize of $1,000 in addition to an audience choice award of $250. See MacFarlane Wins Innovation Challenge Minute Pitch Contest.
The Seed Pitch was hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, and an audience of more than 100 students, faculty, staff, and community members was on hand as the top four Seed Pitch teams and the Hult Prize winner and runner-up were recognized and gave minute-long pitches for their ventures.
Competing in the Seed Pitch for $15,000 in equity-free funding, 17 teams gave five-minute pitches of their venture ideas and participated in question-and-answer sessions with the panel of expert judges from industry.
Next up in the Innovation Challenge series is the semifinal, set for Wednesday, February 26. This competition simulates the closed-door pitch process, and teams will compete for a spot in the final, to be staged later in the spring.
The judges for the Seed Pitch included Gabrielle Gould (Amherst BID), Eric Rogers (TINC), and Arjun Saraswat (EY). The Sponsors were EY, The Heiser Family, Norman “Bud” Robertson, Kumar Ganapathy, Jeff Glassman, Darn It!, John & Sally Burke, Joe Suyemoto, Jerry O'Connor, Valerie Post, Engel & Volkers, Boston, Larry Post ‘75, and the Post Hospitality Group. (January 2020)