Technology Entrepreneurship: Collaborative Pitch Day Showcases UConn’s Best

This year the course opened to nursing students, a partnership through the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center.

2024 TIE course participants.

As the semester draws to a close, student entrepreneurs are celebrating their achievements and making one “final pitch” to fund their innovations. 

Monday, April 22 was the final pitch day and culmination of the Technology Innovation and  Entrepreneurship courses for Spring 2024. The two-part series is offered by the College of Engineering and the School of Business. 

The course is led by Dr. Leila Daneshmandi, Assistant Professor in Residence of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering and Director of the Entrepreneurship Hub (eHub) and Sam Nanayakkara, Professor and entrepreneur. Professor Nanayakkara is a serial entrepreneur specialized in startup operations and digital technology who uses his skill sets as an adjunct professor within the School of Business.   

Students in the TIE courses hailed from the College of Engineering, the School of Business, and the School of Nursing. This year the course opened to nursing students, a partnership through the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center. 

The student ventures that presented were Green Grid Farms, Puppy Palace, Transplant Rescue, KLAD, eKardia, and Alevia Pharma OraSpray. 

“These students have worked hard over one or two semesters building technology-enabled ventures in areas that require significant innovation to drive change,” says Daneshmandi. “Today is a time of celebration as they look back at all they have achieved.” 

Engineering Associate Dean Leslie Shor, Connecticut Invention Convention Executive Director Nick Briere, Nursing Visiting Professor Tiffany Kelley, Connecticut Technology Council Executive Director Melina Erwin, FORGE Senior Program Manager Aaron Monikowski, Entrepreneur Mori Beheshti, and UConn Digital Media and Design Graduate Student Nooshin Farashaei judged the event. 

This year’s event also featured two new additions.  

Thanks to the Connecticut Invention Convention, the UConn community heard from three young inventors in the K-12 inventor space. Kaylee Vengruskas presented the Bucket Unstucker, a device to prevent 5-gallon buckets from sticking together while stacked. Rhea Doshi presented CocoPure, a filtration device to clean drinking water. Finally, Liam Jurado presented his 3D printed device to easily pull Play-Doh from its plastic container. 

The judges were impressed with the children’s inventions, and encouraged them to consider additional aspects for their budding entrepreneurial projects. 

The group also heard from top student ventures making waves outside of the TIE course. They include ParticleN, Genesist, and Toribio Labs Zemi Platforms, some of which were alumni of past TIE courses.  

“Engineering faculty and staff are paving the future of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Dean Kazem Kazerounian who attended the event to meet the students. “I applaud Professor Daneshmandi and her colleagues for inspiring these students and promoting the College as an epicenter of entrepreneurship and innovation.” 

More information about the College of Engineering’s technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship courses, which are open to undergraduate and graduate students from all Schools and Colleges are available through the Entrepreneurship Hub. Photos from the event can be viewed online.