2018 Spring Review

By Ain CFE Staff

To build upon our busy Fall semester, the Ain Center launched a variety new programs and hosted a number of entrepreneurial events during Spring 2018. Below is just an overview of the competitions, talks, and entrepreneurial projects that happened this semester!


Humans for Education team during the 2018 NYBPC in Rochester
UR Connected team with Duncan Moore and Ann Forbes
CompreSure team with the Mark Ain Competition trophy
Business Competitions

Throughout this spring, the Ain Center offered three competitions to entrepreneurial students. The first, held in April, was the New York Business Plan Competition – Finger Lakes Regional Contest at St. John Fisher College. Teams from six local colleges participated. Three U of R teams won their category – Humans for Education in Social Entrepreneurship & Nonprofit, Pollinate in Services, and Solid Cell in Clean Technology; they went on to compete in the statewide finals in Albany.

Second, the Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition featured seven student teams with a focus on engineering innovation. Among the winning ideas were an app to connect seniors, a textbook swap platform, and an entrepreneurial project in Liberia. The winners were:

  • 1st Place: UR Connected – Allen Chen, Krista Pipho, Brandon Smart, Hetince Zhao
  • 2nd Place (TIE): BarterOut – Vlad Cazacu, Zixu Chen, Duncan Grubbs, Annmarie Hamburgen, Luis Nova
  • 2nd Place (TIE): HORN Empowers – Maria Christina Gil Diaz, Paula Guerra, Emmanuel Gweamee, Amie Laurent Twizerimana
  • 2nd Place (TIE): Uptick – Sidhant Ahluwalia, Obed Badillo Moreno

The Mark Ain Business Model Competition, our final contest of the semester, showcased the top entrepreneurial teams from the entire University. After making it through two preliminary rounds, five groups were able to pitch their ventures to a panel of distinguished judges on May 16. Winners were announced that afternoon:

  • 1st Place: CompreSure Medical – Alyssa Lopez, Gregory Dadourian, Meghann Meyer, Rachel Zimmer
  • 2nd Place: ADASI – Rebecca Amorese, Amanda Smith, Evan Sosnow
  • 3rd Place: Prosthesis for a New Syria – Ibrahim Mohammad, Omar Soufan
2018 Meliora LaunchPad expo
Student Organization Events

Meliora LaunchPad, one of the University’s student entrepreneurship clubs, hosted an Entrepreneurship Expo at the beginning of May. Only about a year and half old, the club created a fantastic event to highlight student innovators and to celebrate their graduating seniors. In February, we also co-hosted Club Rochester with other interdisciplinary groups on campus, including the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, iZone, and the Gwen M. Greene Career & Internship Center.

Tia Gilmartin presenting to entrepreneurial nurses
Ain Center Lecture Series

One of the University of Rochester’s defining aspects is its commitment to medical discovery and healing. Because the field of medicine is ever-changing (and at the U of R, becoming ever better), the Ain Center and the School of Nursing hosted Dr. Mattia Gilmartin of New York University. Dr. Gilmartin, a former health clinician and current faculty member, spoke to innovators from throughout UR. She shared her perspective as a practitioner, intrapreneur, and educator, with her talk zeroing in on the importance of taking risks and building on your experiences to create something worthwhile.

Ain Center's Entrepreneur Connector Wall
Ain Center Events

In addition to the formal competitions and lectures, we also hosted smaller, more granular workshops and events, which allowed all members of the UR community to grow their entrepreneurial skillset and mingle with experienced entrepreneurs in fields outside of their own. In March, we shuttled students to NextCorps at Sibley Square, where our Incubator is located. Students were able to network with real startups and see the new space for the first time.

We also started a number of online or indirect modes of collaboration. In March, we debuted our Entrepreneur Connector – a physical wall outside the Ain Center filled with postings for teamwork opportunities (students can submit in person or online). In May, the Ain Center became an admin in the newly launched Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group on The Meliora Collective, a platform for the UR community.

Michelle Roberts presenting during 2018 Buzz Lab Boot Camp
Buzz Lab Boot Camp

Designed for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and aspiring small business owners in the greater Rochester area, the Buzz Lab Boot Camp held its inaugural sessions this February. For four Saturdays, participants from the region gathered on River Campus to learn about a variety of topics – including Pricing, Marketing, and Human Resources Management. The wildly successful program was supported by a grant from the Economic Development Administration and is likely to run again next spring!

Team of students competing in UR Next Gen
Team of students presenting their idea during UR Next Gen
UR Next Gen Challenge

Each semester, the MS in Technical Entrepreneurship and Management (TEAM) program hosts the Next Gen Challenge. A think-tank style competition allows STEM students to solve real-world problems with professional scientists and engineers, as well as industry representatives. February’s competition took place at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. These winning teams were awarded cash prizes:

  • 1st Place: Sherry Xiao, Sereen Assi, Lennard Emanuel, Aman Tugnawat
  • 2nd Place: Ivanah Desoloc, Devin Marino, Omar Soufan, Sarat Tirumala
  • 3rd Place: Joshua Ivery, Siqi Xiong, Diego Martinez, Obed Badillo Moreno, Hadi Wehbe
As the semester comes to a close, want to thank all of our wonderful partners and participants. This spring has inspired us to provide more opportunities for our students, build new relationships University-wide, and establish deeper roots in the Rochester community.
Keep up with our summer planning and adventures on our social media channels – we’ll be back with more stories in the fall!