UW’s Fisher Innovation Launchpad Announces Six Finalists

Six innovative businesses — ranging from a company that focuses on increasing outdoor recreational opportunities to one that reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide levels through the use of biomass — are finalists in a University of Wyoming entrepreneurship competition.

The finalists are UW graduate and undergraduate students, UW faculty and entrepreneurs who will compete for seed funding to grow their businesses. Teams will make their presentations during the Fisher Innovation Launchpad Pitch Day Tuesday, Nov. 30.

“The Fisher Innovation Launchpad has always been a phenomenal platform that allows UW students to solve real-world problems with their ideas and passions, and the sixth year of the competition is no different,” says Fred Schmechel, interim director of IMPACT 307. “These teams continue the tradition of putting UW’s best foot forward as we improve the world.”

The Fisher Innovation Launchpad is a business startup competition hosted by IMPACT 307, UW’s network of business incubators, and supported by a financial gift from Donne and Sue Fisher, the launchpad’s namesake. The competition features teams that have been working over many months to hone their business models and create real-world companies that address real-world problems.

The qualifying businesses named as finalists are:

— Bedrock Outfitters is a business seeking to get more people involved outdoors. It provides training to outdoor-focused businesses and covers topics such as gear use, recreation opportunities and sustainable practices. Emma Dixon, an environmental systems science, and outdoor recreation and tourism management major from Lawrence, Kan., and Taylor Davis, an outdoor recreation and tourism management major from Wylie, Texas, founded the company. Both are UW students.

— Hawl-It is a business that is creating an application that allows independent freight truck drivers to select and manage their schedules and jobs. Hawl-It was founded by Brett Butler, a UW MBA student from Pinedale, and local entrepreneur Jarrod Butler.

— GigaChar is a business that is employing a strategy to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels through the use of biomass. GigaChar was founded by Alexandra Howell, a UW Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering from Morrill, Neb., and Erica Belmont, an associate professor and head of the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering.

— InsurXcel is a business that has created software to keep insurance providers up to date on industry trends while putting cybersecurity first. Finley McIlwaine and Kegan McIlwaine, both UW computer science graduate students from Cheyenne, founded the company.

— Optima is a company that is designing a therapeutic system that can administer both hot and cold treatments for athletes, personal trainers and physical therapy patients. Todd Muller, a UW chemical engineering graduate student from Laramie, is the company founder who is working with a team.

— Ashley Babcock, a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Science and Math Teaching Center and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources from Edwards, Colo., and Ben Morley are addressing soil health through community-based compost collection systems. Their business does not yet have a formal name.

For more information, email laramie@uwyo.edu.

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