Biggest Year Yet for Dempsey Startup Competition

Judges selected 37 finalists to advance from a record pool of 136 student teams in the 2024 Dempsey Startup Competition at the University of WashingtonA surge in student innovation and entrepreneurship across the Pacific Northwest powered the opening round of the 2024 Dempsey Startup Competition to unseen heights. More than 200 judges scored a record 136 submissions from 21 colleges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. They selected 37 finalists and three alternate teams (detailed below) to move forward to the live Investment Round on Thursday, May 2—the next step in the multi-stage competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.

The top 37 teams selected to compete in the next round will set up trade show-style booths and pitch their early-stage ideas to a room full of startup and investment professionals, as well as competition alumni from around the region.

“Students are overcoming the challenges that began this decade by embracing an innovative and determined mindset like we’ve never seen before,” said Amy Sallin, director of the Buerk Center. “We believe this year’s Dempsey Startup is poised to deliver the most-prepared early-stage teams yet for success beyond the competition.”

The Dempsey Startup Competition entered its 27th year coming off a previous record level of engagement from student teams in 2023. Despite the 15% increase in teams from last year, Screening Round judges were able to efficiently review executive summary admissions and provide detailed feedback so each group of students can improve on their ideas for the future.

Each Investment Round team will compete for a share of $87,500 in prizes—including multiple “Big Picture Prizes” of $5,000 and “Best Idea Prizes” of $2,500 in several distinct categories. Over the past 26 years, student teams have earned more than $2 million dollars in prizes, while giving up zero equity in their ideas as part of the competition process.

The 16 highest-scoring teams will be announced at the reception following the event and advance to the Sweet 16 on Thursday, May 23. The Final Four round takes place later that same day and is followed by an awards dinner and celebration at Bell Harbor in Seattle.

The Investment Round student teams represent eight colleges and universities including UW, UW Bothell, the Global Innovation Exchange (UW GIX), Seattle University, the University of Victoria (B.C.), Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and the University of Puget Sound.

Screening Round teams included student submissions from the aforementioned schools, as well as the University of Oregon, Oregon Health & Science University, Pacific Lutheran University, Green River College, Portland State University, Central Washington University, Walla Walla University, Edmonds College, Northeastern University-Seattle, and UW-Tacoma. Teams also featured student collaborators from nearly a dozen schools outside the Pacific Northwest, including UCLA, Arizona, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Boston University, and Carnegie Mellon.

Since 1998, the competition has empowered more than 6,300 student founders and nearly 2,200 teams to explore how to turn early-stage ideas into fully formed startups. Beginning in 2019, the generous support of alumnus Neal Dempsey allowed the competition to expand eligibility for student teams in Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and British Columbia, stimulating more student-created startups than ever before.

Best of luck to the top 37 teams in the 2024 Dempsey Startup Competition!

The 2024 Investment Round finalists of the Dempsey Startup Competition

AffordAid is a non-profit initiative aimed at mitigating the financial strain of acquiring medical aids by offering refurbished, high-quality medical equipment at reduced prices.

  • University of Washington (Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Computer Science, Finance, Mathematics, Data Science, Human Centered Design and Engineering)

AIM is high-quality, affordable standardized test preparation that leverages AI to provide the value of a professional test tutor while empowering students of all financial means to reach their boldest educational dreams.

  • University of Washington (Business Administration, Computer Science, Finance, Oceanography, Informatics)

Alzi is developing an AI-driven platform designed to reduce the burden placed on caregivers of early-stage Alzheimer’s patients and help patients assess their memory and track their answers over time with a wearable or screen device.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (Technology Innovation in Robotics, M.S. in Technology Innovation)

BioLegacy aims to extend donor organ viability from 24 hours to years by utilizing patent-pending organ cryopreservation and electromagnetic rewarming technologies, while working with clinical partners to save more lives.

  • Seattle University (Mechanical Engineering, Finance and Accounting, Chemistry), University of Washington (Mechanical Engineering)

BioSyft is combining deep learning technology with the tracking of animal movements to develop models for neuropsychiatric and behavioral diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

  • University of Washington (Ph.D. in Pharmacology, MBA, Ph.D. in Neuroscience)

Boundless Label
Boundless Label helps companies transition from adhesive labels, which interfere with recycling and composting process, to its sustainable labels that measurably reduce environmental impact.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Entrepreneurship)

Cactus Kefir
Cactus Kefir is a good-for-your-gut, raw, water kefir beverage meant to be a non-alcoholic drink alternative, while providing functional probiotic benefits with a unique flavor.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Marketing and Entrepreneurship)’s RFPGo, a GenAI-powered tool, aims to transform the documents cities use in the public procurement process to create a virtuous flywheel that creates more business opportunities, increases market competition, and improves the quality of goods and services delivered to all citizens.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

CLARA developed an app-based software solution to make hospital campuses safer and smarter by getting the right people, with the right tools, to the right place at the right time.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA, M.S. in Entrepreneurship)

Comet Creator Marketplace
Comet Creator Marketplace is a two-sided online marketplace platform leveraging the dynamic growth of the creator economy to connect local businesses with content creators seamlessly.

  • University of Washington Bothell (Business Administration, Management and Marketing), University of Washington (Computer Science)

Cordoba is an architectural text-to-object model using AI to generate code-compliant building 3D models to help people build their dream homes.

  • Washington State University (Finance and Entrepreneurship), University of Idaho (Economics and Business Finance)

DiabEase is developing an all-in-one, AI-powered diabetes management platform that provides real-time personalized diet, meal plan, and lifestyle recommendations to address the complications faced by people with diabetes.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Entrepreneurship, Psychology, Finance, Biomedical Regulatory Affairs)

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

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Applied Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering)

FarmGazer developed a solar-powered monitoring system with advanced camera technology and a user-friendly mobile application for tech-savvy farmers to make informed decisions through AI-driven crop health and weather analyses.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (M.S. in Technology Innovation), University of Washington (Business Administration)

Finquire democratizes finance by offering a personalized, intuitive, and affordable AI-driven mobile experience for users, primarily age 20 to 27, to achieve financial stability and growth regardless of income.

  • University of Washington (Finance, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science)

Greener Pastures
Greener Pastures has developed a regenerative agricultural solution that aims to revolutionize the way seeds are planted for optimal growth, while allowing farmers to increase crop yields and decrease inputs.

  • University of Washington (Technology Management MBA, Biology)

Happy Pop
Happy Pop offers guilt-free snacking with delicious Indian-inspired snacks, all handmade from wholesome and non-GMO ingredients.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science, Business Information Systems)

Hidden Kitchen
Hidden Kitchen revolutionizes home cooking by providing an intuitive algorithmic app that simplifies recipe discovery, food prep, and meal tracking.

  • University of Washington (Interaction Design, Information Systems, Visual Communication Design, Accounting)

HomeSavvy created a comprehensive scoring and report system for homes that makes it easier for users to deep-dive into important information including, but not limited to, liens, encroachments, permitting history, and legal property type.

  • Seattle University (MBA, Computer Science)

IonGuard Innovations
IonGuard Innovations created the SINEW Mask, a groundbreaking air-purifying respirator that employs electrostatic filtration for superior protection.

  • University of Washington (Mechanical Engineering, Public Health, Electrical Engineering)

Joy Bucket
Joy Bucket created an affordable, clinical grade wearable health technology for safe and healthy pregnancies with the goal of empowering pregnant mothers against rising maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States.

  • University of Washington (MBA, M.S. in Computer Science)

LiveUp provides students with a simple and easy to follow process for subleasing and renting in an all-in-one platform with the goal of providing greater access to affordable housing.

  • University of Washington (Computer Engineering, Marketing, Finance, Computer Science)

Luminovah developed an innovative non-invasive healthcare technology that uses advanced spectroscopy to provide accurate and comfortable diagnostics.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering)

Mindful Odyssey
Mindful Odyssey is a board game designed to de-mystify mental health well-being across the globe by embedding clever real-life challenges within a fantasy world.

  • University of Washington (MBA)

MoleView designed a camera-equipped tool to make early skin cancer detection more accessible, accurate, cost-effective, and user-friendly.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science, M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Microbiology)

MoodRoom is a virtual, mental health and dialectical behavior therapy toolkit for managing mood and mental disorders, negative thought patterns, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and substance abuse.

  • University of Washington (Political Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Visual Communication Design, Visual Design Communication), Seattle University (M.S. in Finance), University of California-San Diego (Computer Science), New York University (Computer Science)

Nimble Surgical
Nimble Surgical is building the next generation of cardiovascular catheters to simplify complex interventional procedures to shorten procedure time, reduce patient complications, and increase procedural efficiency.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Mechanical Engineering)

Orbi is an AI software engineer that helps teams go from development tasks to solutions in minutes, while curbing technical debt, streamlining development, and boosting productivity.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science)

Revyn Medical Technologies
Revyn Medical Technologies is a medical device design and development company on a mission to raise the level of gynecological care through the use of its novel vaginal speculum redesign that improves device effectiveness and practitioner usability while prioritizing patient comfort.

  • University of Victoria (British Columbia) (Biomedical Engineering, Engineering and Computer Science)

Roam Travel Toothbrush
Roam is an oral care company committed to revolutionizing the industry with sustainable, on-the-go products including its Roam Travel Toothbrush, which is both convenient and environmentally conscious.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Entrepreneurship)

Sakura MedTech
Sakura MedTech offers a breakthrough patient-centric imaging device for cervical cancer screening to improve the patient experience and gynecological efficiency.

  • University of Washington (Computer Engineering), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Bioengineering)

SecondSite offers total job-site reality capture and AI analysis for construction risk management so mistakes can be caught as they happen.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (M.S. in Technology Innovation)

Tale is a real-time, context-based speech assistance solution that utilizes AI-driven speech analysis to empower individuals with aphasia, helping them regain language skills and confidence.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (M.S. in Technology Innovation)

The Integrity Project
The Integrity Project is a nonprofit platform leveraging AI and big data to enhance governance through political integrity analysis and political systems mapping, while empowering voters with actionable insights into candidate trustworthiness and integrity.

  • University of Washington Bothell (Computer Science and Software Engineering), Washington State University (Data Analytics), University of Washington (Business Administration)

VigiWatch developed an AI and computer vision technology for small to medium-sized businesses to implement a privacy-conscious solution to detect and prevent retail theft.

  • University of Washington (Finance, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Violet is a dating app that not only connects students, but also partners with local restaurants to curate quality dates for users.

  • University of Washington Bothell (Business Administration Management, Business Administration Finance), University of Puget Sound (History, Computer Science), University of Washington (Business, Finance) aims to create custom software affordable and accessible by allowing anyone to generate web apps from a simple English language prompt, eliminating the needs for coding expertise or expensive SaaS web applications.

  • University of Washington (Finance, Computer Science, Informatics)

2024 Dempsey Startup Competition Investment Round – Alternate Teams

BiteChat transforms dining discovery with AI-powered personalization, catering to specific dietary needs.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Information Systems)

Smart Earring
Smart Earring created a small, lightweight, and ultra-low power wireless earring device designed for continuous body temperature monitoring from the earlobe that offers a unique solution for ovulation and cycle tracking.

  • University of Washington (M.S. in Computer Science)

The Athlete Hub
The Athlete Hub is a social networking platform specifically designed for NCAA student athletes so they can showcase their career aspirations and passions while maximizing their potential networks and opportunities.

  • University of Washington (Business, Computer Science)