Students compete in inaugural entrepreneurship competition at LSSU

Get Real Competition

ENTREPRENEURIAL IDEALISTS — Sault Economic Development Corporation Director Jeff Holt, left, and Eric Becks, right, associate dean of Lake Superior State University’s College of Innovation and Solutions, pose with winners – all LSSU students – of the first annual Get Real! Entrepreneurship Competition on April 13. Left of center to right is Cody Ley, from Jones, Mich., who took top honors for his “Hemp for Humanity” building material plan. Tony Mongene, from Pickford, Mich., landed third-place honors – and a best-product prize for $500 plus five hours of consulting with the LSSU Product Development Center – for a ‘total artificial heart’ intended to bridge the gap between donors and recipients. Just left of Becks is Justin Portice, from Dafter, Mich., who received the $300 second-place prize with an “Integrated Residential Design Solution” that lets contractors and developers optimize aspects of home automation for handicapped and elderly residents. (LSSU Photo)

Lake Superior State University and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC) teamed up with America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) of Michigan to host the inaugural, Get Real! Entrepreneurship Competition. The daylong event was held April 13 in R.W. Considine Hall on Lake State’s main campus, and invited competitors from universities and community colleges across Michigan and Ontario.

“Hosting the Get Real! Competition at LSSU is yet another step in fostering an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the region,” said David Roland Finley, dean of LSSU’s College of Innovation and Solutions. “The innovative ideas developed during the event have tremendous potential to improve our world and become viable business ventures.”

The competition invited students to work up and share any product concept or innovative business idea. Competitors engaged with faculty from LSSU’s College of Innovation and Solutions to enhance a product or business concept. Following work sessions that developed ideas, competitors presented plans for a product concept or innovative business idea to a panel of judges, with finalists advancing to compete for top honors.

The Sault EDC sponsored a $500 first place prize for best business idea, with EDC Director Jeff Holt serving as a judge. Retired Chippewa County EDC Director Tom Ewing also volunteered as a judge. Prof. Ralf Wilhelms of the LSSU Lukenda School of Business provided an overview of the “business canvas model” concept along with advice from his years of business experiences and consulting.

First place in the business idea category went to LSSU’s Cody Ley, a junior in environmental science from Jones, Mich., for his “Hemp for Humanity” building material plan. According to Ley, hemp grows fast, requiring half the water of comparable fiber-generating plants. His plan sees powdered hemp mixed with a lye solution to create concrete capable of building structures for homeless around world. Ley is combining his science major with a minor in general business.

Justin Portice, an LSSU senior from Pickford, Mich., majoring in electrical engineering, took a $300 second prize with his “Integrated Residential Design Solution.” It lets contractors and developers optimize many aspects of home automation for handicapped and elderly residents.

The third-place prize of $200 went to “Arete Laboratories,” a plan by LSSU student Tony Mongene for a ‘total artificial heart’ to bridge the gap between donors and recipients. His concept also took the best-product prize for $500 plus five hours of consulting with the LSSU Product Development Center. Mongene is mechanical engineering senior from Dafter, Mich.

The Get Real! Competition arose through the efforts of a ‘Gatekeeper’ program at LSSU, which is funded by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For information about upcoming competitions, see https://www.lssu.edu/getreal/. One could be offered again as soon as this fall.

For more information about LSSU, please contact the LSSU Marketing and Communications Department at 906-635-2315 or visit www.lssu.edu.