11 February 2014
Newswise — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced the winners of its first sustainability innovation pitch night competition. The event, held late January in the W. L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab) on Darden's Grounds, drew a standing-room-only crowd. Six participants pitched their best ideas for incorporating sustainability into their ventures or community organizations.
Like the hit ABC network show Shark Tank that features contestants who pitch their business ideas to potential investors, the i.Lab contestants pitched their big ideas on creating value for people while meeting environmental challenges to the crowd.
The "People's Choice" winner for the evening was Anna Perry, a Charlottesville High School senior who shared her progress and vision for composting in area K-12 schools. She also received the "Most Feasible Idea" award.
The night's "Overall Winner," Joni Lane of Boston Architectural College, triumphed with her idea to insulate buildings with hemp-based materials.
The night's participants also included:
• Matthew Slaats for Bridge Progressive Art Initiative
• Joe Rinkevich for SciVera
• Kelly Love for Branch Basics, an i.Lab Incubator company
• Darden Second Year student Edem Seshie for the Darden Social Impact Venture Fund
Presenters had five minutes or less, using five PowerPoint slides or fewer, to convince the audience that they had the winning vision for a socially and/or environmentally responsible operation. The "Overall Winner" will receive complimentary mentoring from Philippe Sommer, director of Darden's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the i.Lab.
Kathryne Carr, director of the i.Lab Incubator and venture mentor, welcomed the attendees, and local business owner and Darden alumnus Toan Nguyen (MBA `93) gave out the awards.
"We were delighted to host the first Sustainability Innovation Pitch Night at the i.Lab, which is a resource for the entire U.Va., Charlottesville and central Virginia communities," said Carr. "Having a full house for Pitch Night was a great way to connect with new visitors and participants."
Along with the i.Lab, Darden's Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation sponsored the event in conjunction with the Better Business Challenge (BBC). BBC is an initiative led by Better World Betty and the Local Energy Alliance Program, with key partners including Darden, the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the Chamber of Commerce.
"This is an effort to effect change in the community one step at a time," said Erika Herz, associate director of sustainability programs at Darden. "Events like this one will help businesses and individuals take steps toward sustainability that they can implement into their personal and professional lives."
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case study method, top-ranked faculty whose research advances global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders who are ready to make an impact.
About the i.Lab
The i.Lab is a pan-university hub for entrepreneurship and innovation education at the University of Virginia. The i.Lab's mission is to foster deep cross-collaboration with no boundaries, across disciplines, schools or ways of thinking. The i.Lab provides coaching, courses, and incubation to students, faculty, and community members interested in launching ventures. The i.Lab, Open Grounds and related initiatives enable U.Va. to create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem within a university and its surrounding community. The i.Lab is a collaborative effort of 11 schools of the University, the Provost's Office, and UVA Innovation.
About the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business improves the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. The institute's academic research center advances knowledge that addresses real-world challenges and shapes Darden's curriculum. Its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers one of the world's top entrepreneurship programs. The Batten Institute was established with gifts from U.Va. alumnus Frank Batten Sr., a media pioneer, visionary and founder of The Weather Channel.
For questions or information, contact Abena Foreman-Trice or a member of the Communication team.