In a year like no other, the Dempsey Startup Competition made history once again. Students representing 23 different colleges from across the Cascadia Corridor and Alaska kicked off the competition with the Screening Round—seven more than the previous record high in 2019. Judges selected 30 of the 100 student teams (plus alternates) to move forward and compete in the all-virtual Investment Round on Wednesday, May 5. The finalists (detailed below) will be vying for $90,000 in prizes—the largest prize pool in the 24-year history of the competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.
The 2021 field included multiple teams from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia, western and eastern Washington. The 30 finalist teams represent nine colleges and universities including UW-Seattle, UW-Bothell, Seattle University, Olympic College, Washington State University, the University of Idaho, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and the University of Portland. All 30 finalist teams are eligible to win “Big Picture Prizes” of $5,000 and “Best Idea Prizes” of $2,500 in several distinct categories.
Judges will select 16 teams to move forward to the Sweet 16 Round on Wednesday, May 26. The following day, the top four teams will face a select panel of judges in the Final Round. Prize winners will be announced Friday, May 28 in a video awards ceremony on the Buerk Center’s YouTube Page.
Over the past 23 years, nearly 5,700 participants and more than 1,600 teams have showcased their ideas in the Dempsey Startup (which was was formerly known as the UW Business Plan Competition). Of that group, nearly 210 teams have earned prizes of more than $1.6 million dollars. In 2019, the competition expanded to include the entire Cascadia region including Alaska and British Columbia thanks to the generous support of alumnus Neal Dempsey.
Best of luck to the Investment Round finalists in the all-virtual 2021 Dempsey Startup Competition:
Afterlife Listing is bringing the cemetery industry into the 21st century with the first online marketplace for burial plot transactions, verification, and financing.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Biochemistry, Communications, Informatics)
Ananta is developing a bioreactor that can rapidly expand T-cells for use in cancer immunotherapy with the goal of disrupting the cell-based therapy market.
- Washington State University (Chemical Engineering)
Anderson Biohybrid Systems
Anderson Biohybrid Systems is developing chemical sensors inspired by systems found in nature to allow first responders to better detect toxic gases, chemical weapon, and explosive discharges in the event of a disaster.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Arc Security is developing a safety-oriented mobile system to help mitigate the potential physical and emotional harms faced by real estate agents.
- University of Washington-Seattle, UW-Bothell (Real Estate, Business, Arts and Sciences, Computer Science and Engineering)
Bandit Labs is using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to develop analytical tools to help e-commerce businesses better understand the customer experience.
- University of British Columbia (Materials Science and Engineering, Computer Science, Political Science)
Bright Sky Development
Bright Sky Development is developing an affordable alternative to the single-family real estate market that seeks to address the shortcomings of existing alternatives in expensive cities by allowing buyers to leverage existing relationships.
- University of Washington-Seattle (MBA)
Campus Can Crushers
Campus Can Crushers developed a highly-durable recycling apparatus that can be customized with university logos or other branding.
- University of Idaho (Biological Engineering)
CARA is developing a personal safety app that is simple to use and allows users to discreetly and safely connect with family and friends in dangerous situations.
- University of British Columbia (Business Technology Management, Engineering, Business, Marketing)
Castofly is developing a cloud-based educational technology platform to seamlessly create, share, and collaborate on video content while reducing the need to use multiple software programs.
- University of British Columbia (MBA)
Clarity Core has developed an all-natural solid aromatherapy product that helps users stay calm and discover increased focus during busy days.
- University of Washington-Seattle, UW-Bothell (Business, Computer Science, Psychology)
Cledge is developing an algorithm driven e-learning platform with the goal of expanding access to college admissions counseling.
- University of Washington-Seattle, Santa Clara University (Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering)
Community Collaboratory is developing a website and app that makes it easy for adults to offer and receive safe and flexible social support.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Nursing Practice, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education)
Crimson Medical Solutions
Crimson Medical Solutions is a health tech company developing a tool for nurses to reduce medication errors through streamlined IV-line organization.
- Washington State University (Bioengineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Communication)
DryScoop is the first pre-workout powder formulated to be consumed dry in a single use, recyclable pouch.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Business, Applied Mathematics)
GreenLoop is developing a biodegradable plastic that naturally degrades into an organic fertilizer.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Marketing and Finance, Business Administration, Physiology, Biochemistry)
HealthXpress is developing refurbished mobile clinics to solve the problem of health inequality in underdeveloped countries.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)
JustGoodGames seeks to disrupt the pricing and collectability models common to the trading card game market with an original card game.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Psychology, Communication)
LifeAt is an online marketplace for both students and universities that uses a next-generation virtual tour experience.
- University of Washington-Seattle, University of Portland (Human-Centered Design and Engineering, Computer Science)
Med Vigilance is developing a cloud-based solution to the problem of disrupted drug supply chains impacting patients and the pharmaceutical industry that also allows for the creation of predictive and preventative strategies.
- University of Washington-Seattle, University of Texas Health Science Center (Biomedical and Health Informatics, Epidemiology)
Peko is developing consumer-facing analytics-based mobile app to make cooking easy while reducing food waste across the supply chain.
- University of British Columbia, McGill University (Marketing, Finance, Cognitive Science, Business and Computer Science)
Provide Now offers non-profits a marketplace solution to alleviate in-kind donation issues to give them total control over what they receive and when they receive it.
- University of Washington-Seattle (MBA)
Puget Buoy is a green technology startup developing experimental fishing gear designed to prevent whale entanglements and reduce lost fishing gear for the improved health and sustainability of the seafood industry.
- Olympic College, University of Washington-Seattle (Business)
SongChain is developing a marketplace and forum for independent musicians to use emerging NFT (non-fungible token) technology to retain greater creative control and ownership of their music.
- University of Washington-Seattle, Dartmouth College (Business, Economics, Accounting and Finance, International Studies)
Sound Sustainability is creating one of the first FDA cleared over-the-counter hearing aids and virtual hearing tests with a goal of improving the hearing health of the world.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, MBA)
Spirited is developing curated bar boxes with craft spirits inside to make it easier and more fun to build a home bar collection.
- Seattle University (Leadership Executive MBA)
Takeoff is a social food delivery platform that empowers college students to leverage their social network for free and convenient food delivery.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Business, Economics and Design, Informatics, Computer Science)
Triden Solutions seeks to eliminate the excessive waste produced by the cleaning-products industry by providing advanced touchless sanitization solutions.
- University of Victoria (Biomedical Engineering, Entrepreneurship)
VerbalEyes is developing an AI-powered technology that creates greater accessibility for people with visual impairments to access and understand videos.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Human Centered Design and Engineering, Computer Science)
VoxCell BioInnovation is developing a high-resolution bioprinter capable of creating human tissue models with the correct arrangement of blood vessels in an organ or part.
- University of Victoria (Applied Science, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering)
Wave Motion Launch Corporation
Wave Motion Launch seeks to increase access to space by decreasing the cost of launching satellites and maintenance tools into orbit by over 90% using a patented new launch technology called the jet-gun.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Business, Plasma Physics and Nuclear Fusion Energy, Compressible Fluid Dynamics)
Dempsey Startup Investment Round Alternate Teams
Scrapless is a food redistribution platform that empowers food business owners to find local buyers for their surplus food products.
- University of British Columbia (Clean Energy Engineering)
InStep Recovery Partner
InStep Recovery Partner is developing a smart wearable device and companion mobile app to help orthopedic patients track and make informed decisions about their recovery.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Anthroengineering and Human Biomechanics)
TrachTech is designing a medical device that removes bacteria buildup from endotracheal tubes without disrupting oxygen delivery to decrease the infection rate associated with ventilator related complications.
- University of Washington-Seattle, Tulane University (Psychology, Applied Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering)
Wisdom Care is developing a multi-faceted solution for independent caregivers to break out of the gig economy and start their own businesses.
- University of Washington-Seattle (Human Centered Design and Engineering)