Sweet 16 Chosen in 2023 Dempsey Startup Competition

Judges chose 16 teams to advance in the 2023 Dempsey Startup Competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.The boardroom awaits the top 16 teams in the 2023 Dempsey Startup Competition. Judges chose the advancing teams and two alternates (detailed below) following a showcase in Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall that is styled after a live trade show. The Investment Round featured 37 teams chosen from a record pool of 117 Screening Round participants from 13 colleges across the Cascadia Corridor—including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia. The advancing teams engaged with nearly 300 judges in the second round of the multi-stage competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the Dempsey Startup—formerly known as the UW Business Plan Competition. The 37 Investment Round teams were competing not just to advance, but for the opportunity to win one of nearly a dozen Big Picture and Best Idea Prizes. A total of $90,000 in prize money will be given to teams at a special awards ceremony following the Sweet 16 Round the morning of Thursday, May 25, and the Final Round (Top 4) that afternoon. The Sweet 16 Round shifts the competition to a live pitch and Q&A setting with teams assigned to different mock boardrooms full of judges.

Four teams are chosen to advance to the Final Round and participate in a live pitch and Q&A in front of a select group of judges, as well as an audience of students, staff, faculty, and the public in attendance. The dinner and awards celebration that evening will feature not just team awards, but the second annual presentation of the Buerk Center’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Over the previous 25 years of the Dempsey Startup, more than 6,300 students on 2,050 teams have competed. Of that group, 231 have earned funding totaling just under $1.9 million dollars. Overall, the Buerk Center has awarded just shy of $4.5 million dollars to students since 1998 through multiple competitions and the Jones + Foster Accelerator.

The Buerk Center would like to thank the 29 sponsors who supported the Dempsey Startup this year as well as UW alum Neal Dempsey, who’s gift in 2019 helped the Buerk Center open up the competition to teams in British Columbia and Alaska.

Congratulations to the 2023 Sweet 16 of the Dempsey Startup Competition.

The 2023 Dempsey Startup Sweet 16 Round Teams

AMOR provides a liver support system any dialysis operator can use with minimal training that helps bridge liver failure patients to transplantation or recovery with greater survivability.

  • University of Washington (Mechanical Engineering)

BioNova is developing a biogas production process that can be used as an alternative to wood and charcoal for cooking fuel in communities like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Peru.

  • Walla Walla University (Accounting and Finance, Computer Science, Psychology, Marketing, Master of Social Work)

Cledge is democratizing college advising through AI by providing students the information needed to find the perfect college-student fit without them having to resort to hiring private advisors.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science)

Endozene is developing a non-invasive, low cost, accessible diagnostic kit that accurately predicts whether a user has endometriosis through the detection of microRNAs (miRNAs) in menstrual blood.

  • University of Washington (Applied Bioengineering, Biology, Philosophy, MBA)

Fight for 98
Fight for 98 is building a breast cancer screening device that combines hardware and machine learning algorithms to increase accessibility across the globe in a low-cost way.

  • University of Washington, UW-Global Innovation Exchange (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology)

FLARE is developing a wearable device for wildland firefighters that increases the safety and efficiency of those on the frontlines of the fire crisis by providing real-time location through mesh Wi-Fi and satellite constellations, environmental sensors, and an affordable price point.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

Innovative Water
Innovative water is developing a cost-effective, sustainable alternative to traditional centralized water treatment plants by treating wastewater at the source through modular, scalable design.

  • University of Washington (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)

Mezzo is developing an app that provides a seamless end-to-end experience for meetups including scheduling and activity recommendations, venue partnership deals, in-app bill splitting, photo sharing, and more.

  • University of Washington (Human Centered Design & Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Economics)

Naturacur Wound Healing
Naturacur Wound Healing is developing a patented, cost-effective and portable solution for optimal healing of necrotic tissue in injuries.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

NaturallyContained is bringing to market a hyper-renewable and zero-waste soil packaging solution that significantly reduces the amount of plastic waste in the gardening industry.

  • University of Washington, University of British Columbia, UCLA (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Computer Science, Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering, Management)

nomi developed a novel, interactive, robotic pet that integrates biofeedback to help you create a better relationship with stress in an engaging and accessible way.

  • University of Washington, Bastyr University (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design, Human Centered Design & Engineering, Visual Communication Design, Computer Science)

Octagram is developing an augmented artificial intelligence product to accelerate the creation of greener and sustainable buildings by giving engineers advanced tools for energy and environmental design certification.

  • University of Washington (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)

Oryzi is developing a patent-pending process of creating sustainable paper and packaging products made from fungi that are more environmentally friendly than traditional plant-based papers.

  • University of Washington (Technology Management MBA)

Simpl-E-Vac is designing a way to address the improvised nature of existing endoscopic vacuum therapy devices so that gastroenterologists can treat leaks more reliably and effectively.

  • University of Washington (Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)

Spyder Grypz Sports
Spyder Grypz Sports is a sporting goods company specializing in the world’s first 100% recyclable, bio-based rubber sports stick grip that uses no adhesives.

  • University of Washington (Business)

Waltz is developing an AI-based service for media companies and content creators to easily translate and dub content into 100+ languages while preserving emotions, intonation, and voice of the speaker.

  • University of Washington (MBA, Computer Science and Engineering)

2023 Dempsey Startup Competition Sweet 16 Round – Alternate Teams

EZ Leave
EZ Leave is developing a B2B SaaS HR product that allows for better tracking, transparency, and compliance in managing employee leave of absences.

  • University of Washington (MBA, Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering)

Joosi is developing a scalable adult product retail platform that uses recommendation engines, educational videos, and community building to create a better alternative to brick-and-mortar stores.

  • University of Washington (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Communications)

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