November 30, 2016
Barbara Sobko, left, and Karen Buckner November 30, 2016

University of Alabama at Birmingham student Forrest Satterfield, a biomedical engineering student, took home the top prize of $5,000 at UAB’s first ever Blazer Innovation Challenge, held at the Innovation Depot November 16 at the UAB Innovation Lab (iLab).

The iLab and Collat School of Business launched the Blazer Innovation Challenge, sponsored by IBERIABANK, earlier this fall to encourage UAB students to develop new solutions to product, service or process challenges.

Five teams of students presented their ideas to a panel of Birmingham business leaders and entrepreneurs who judged the proposals. Greg King, IBERIABANK executive vice president and Alabama Regional President, served as one of the judges.

“Many of our top leaders are alumni of UAB and we know the school’s reputation for producing industry leaders with keen insight and creative approaches to solving complex problems,” said King, UAB Collat School of Business alumnus, Class of 1999.

Eric P. Jack, Ph.D., dean of the Collat School of Business, said the Blazer Innovation Challenge is an exciting opportunity for students to receive mentoring and coaching from professionals and turn ideas into real businesses. “We were thrilled to partner with IBERIABANK on this challenge and to see the impressive innovations our students developed.” As the first-place winner, Satterfield took home the top prize for his proposal to develop a manufacturing system for motorized prosthetics that marries traditional production of motors with additive manufacturing of 3-D-printed prosthetics.

The second-place prize of $2,500 went to Jeremy Mock, an economics and international studies major, for his idea to create a two-sided web- and app-based customer relationship management system that patients can access through a monthly subscription fee allowing them to connect to any provider on their network.

In third place, and receiving $1,000, Rebecca Klang presented her plan to build an app that tracks grocery purchases and allows users to receive updates on expiration dates. Klang is a business management major.

In addition to winning prize money, the winners will continue to benefit from valuable mentoring, coaching and other iLab resources to help incubate their ideas and potentially launch their own startup companies throughout the 2016-17 academic year.

“The Blazer Innovation Challenge has helped us engage bright and creative students from throughout UAB to put great ideas into practice,” said Joel Dobbs, Collat’s entrepreneur-in-residence. “Many of our students, either individually or with fellow students, identify real-world problems that they are passionate about solving. The Blazer Innovation Challenge is allowing us to identify, fund and nurture some of the best of these.”

Students were able to work individually or as part of a team, but could submit only one idea for consideration. Along with their challenge application, students submitted a one-minute video that explains the idea, the problem it solves and why it is relevant.

The five finalists were selected from an initial pool of 29 applicants, and received coaching through the UAB iLab, including a workshop on using iMovie software presented by Apple. The finalists competed against one another with a revised video presentation and live Q&A before the panel of judges.

The competition winners will present their progress to school and business leaders in April 2017.

To support the Collat School of Business and the B.L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: David I. Allen, 205-996-5399; diallen@uab.edu.