FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 24, 2012) –
Three teams from the University of Louisville have won awards and cash prizes in the Cabinet for Economic
Development’s fifth annual statewide student business plan competition. The competition, called “Idea State U,”
is designed to help identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs.
“I congratulate the winners and applaud the efforts of all who participated in the Idea State U competition,”
said Gov. Steve Beshear. “This type of innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will play a key role in future economic
development. We wish these students the best as they pursue their dreams of putting these promising business plans
In the graduate division, a team comprised of Zack Pennington, Joanna Cruz, Keith Starling and Scott Serdoz took first
place in the business plan category, receiving a cash prize of $35,555. Their proposed venture, Kentucky Chia, creates
a wholesale distributor of domestically grown chia seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber. Chia
seeds can serve as a new cash crop for farmers and provide a supplement for horses to help prevent colic and laminitis.
Also in the graduate division, a team comprised of Bayard Donaldson, JD Edington, Nick Muscato and Justus Zils took
first place in the business concept category, receiving a cash prize of $5,561. Their proposed venture, VOC Diagnostics,
is a non-invasive cost-effective test for lung cancer that captures and analyzes a patient’s breath.
In the undergraduate division, a team comprised of Claire Spalding, Scott Norris, Evan Holladay, Mike Buchberger, Frank Gulla,
Jonathan Rectenwald, Jessica Ruppert, Melanie Quintero, Jennifer Dobbs, Cadie Andes, Zihui Jian, David Norfleet and Clark Jones
finished in first place in the business concept category. The team received a cash prize of $1,583 for their proposed venture,
EcoVision Development, which specializes in high-quality, energy-efficient and affordable apartments.
Additional University of Louisville students participating in the competition included the team of Oliver Ray, Weston Hagan,
Wendy Stidham, Mike Stratton, Denny Grigorov, Jacqueline Pence, Kaysara Mandry, Angelica Hsiao, Kevin Jackson, Lynsey Peyton,
Robyn Gibson, Ana Cohen-Henriquez, Travis Zirnheld and Andrew Sieg. Their proposed venture, Heal@Home, is a home healthcare company
offering care to the most expensive members of Medicare, the homebound patients who are readmitted multiple times to a hospital,
by providing a nurse practitioner to the home.
University of Louisville students, with the help of team advisors Van Clouse and Mark Crane, along with co-advisors Sharon Kerrick
and Suzanne Bergmeister, spent months developing their business concepts.
“Idea State U is an essential ingredient in our Entrepreneurship Minor,” said Mark Crane, Entrepreneur-in-residence, University of
Louisville & faculty advisor to EcoVision Development, winner, undergraduate concept. “The competition provides far more incentive to learn
than anything we could contrive in the classroom. Because student teams know there is real money and prestige at stake, they push
themselves harder than anyone would imagine, and in the process develop tremendous entrepreneurial skills.”
“Idea State U is a valuable experience for our teams as they move from academic experience to an actual startup,” added Dr. Van G.H.
Clouse, Cobb Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Louisville. “The interaction with the potential investors who serve as
judges cannot be easily duplicated outside the Idea State U environment. Keep up the good work!”
Students from the University of Louisville were among more than 70 participants in the competition. In all, “Idea State U” featured
10 teams of graduate students and 14 teams of undergraduates from seven of Kentucky’s public universities.
Up to $100,000 in prize money was awarded to student teams who conceived or developed plans for new Kentucky companies. Cash prizes
were weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely to succeed in
the real world. This emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace offers the greatest opportunity to earn a return on the state's
investment by creating real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians.
The Cabinet hosts the “Idea State U” competition to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain
Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. The $100,000 in cash awards make Kentucky’s “Idea State U” one of the nation’s top
state-sponsored business plan competitions.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for
creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2010 totaled
more than $2 billion with the creation of nearly 11,900 new jobs. Information on available development
sites, workforce training,incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other
resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.