Historic Start to 2023 Dempsey Startup Competition

Judges selected 37 teams to move forward in the Dempsey Startup Competition from a record pool of 117 Screening Round participants.A thirst for innovation and impact drove students to set a new high-water mark for the opening round of the Dempsey Startup Competition. More than 200 judges selected 37 finalists and three alternates (detailed below) to move forward to the Investment Round on Thursday, May 4. The multi-stage competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington received a record 117 submissions from 13 colleges across the Cascadia Corridor—including Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

The competition began its 26th year with Screening Round judges reviewing executive summary admissions and providing detailed feedback and scoring. The Top 37 teams selected to compete in a trade show styled showcase also represent the most ever for the Investment Round. They will pitch their early-stage ideas to a room full of startup and investment professionals, as well as competition alumni from around the region.

“Students this year really rose to the challenge and worked hard to gain traction and validation on a wide variety of startup ideas,” said Amy Sallin, director of the Buerk Center. “We know the impact these student-created startups can have on the region’s ecosystem is vast and we’re excited to help empower them to new heights.”

Each advancing team will compete for a share of $90,000 in prizes—including multiple “Big Picture Prizes” of $5,000 and “Best Idea Prizes” of $2,500 in several distinct categories. Over the past 25 years, student teams have earned more than $1.8 million dollars in prizes.

The Investment Round student teams represent 10 colleges and universities including UW-Seattle, UW-Bothell, the Global Innovation Exchange (UW-GIX), the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, Walla Walla University, Bastyr University, the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University.

The 16 highest-scoring teams will be announced at the reception following the Investment Round and advance to the Dempsey Startup Sweet 16 on Wednesday, May 25. The Dempsey Startup Final Four Round takes place later that same day and is followed by an awards dinner and celebration at Bell Harbor in Seattle.

Since 1998, the Dempsey Startup Competition has empowered more than 6,000 student founders and nearly 2,000 teams to explore how to turn early-stage ideas into fully formed startups. 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.

Best of luck to the Top 37 teams in the 2023 Dempsey Startup Competition!

The 2023 Dempsey Startup Investment Round – Finalist 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)

Atlas is a student-only secure platform for college campuses to share all the best places to eat, live, study, and play.

  • University of Washington-Bothell, University of Washington-Seattle (Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Political Science, Business Administration)

AutoDubs is developing a personalized AI-powered dubbing platform to help content creators share their work in various languages with synthesized versions of their own voice.

  • University of Washington (Computer Science)

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)

ChangeFinder aims to be the ‘Grammarly for Grants’ by offering machine learning models to non-profits so they can spend more time focusing on their mission.

  • University of Oregon, Oregon State University (MBA, Computer Science)

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)

CNACT simplifies complex information in corporate climate disclosures with natural language processing that provides clear, consistent, and comparable information for informed decision-making.

  • University of Washington-Seattle, University of Washington-Bothell (MS in Business Analytics, Computer Science and Software Engineering, Computer Science)

CWTCH places a turn-by-turn indoor navigation app into the hands of caregivers, patients and their families so they can safely and efficiently navigate hospital campuses.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

Dalton Biotech
Dalton Biotech is developing genetically engineered probiotics to effectively reduce inflammation and discomfort for people with autoimmune gut disorders.

  • University of Washington-Bothell, University of Washington-Seattle (Entrepreneurship, Computer Science and Engineering)

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)

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)

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 to detect heat sources with 99% accuracy up to 10 feet while also wirelessly communicating environmental conditions up to 400 feet.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

GenePedia is developing an AI-powered genetics assistant for use in clinical care that alleviates workflow, improves care outcomes, and enables genetic counselors and medical geneticists to see more patients.

  • University of Washington (Marketing Analytics, Health Economics, Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate)

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)

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)

Lit Gardens
Lit Gardens is developing a smart phone application that helps users find the perfect plants by sunlight, size, toxicity, and more while also providing in-stock options at local nurseries.

  • University of Washington (Technology Management MBA)

LoveHate Athletica
LoveHate Athletica makes fashionable and functional women’s tennis and pickleball apparel that reimagines traditional styles.

  • University of Oregon (Entrepreneurship, Advertising)

Luna+Coco is developing an innovative all-in-one dog jacket that addresses paint points for dog owners including managing essential items, transportation, and protecting them from elements.

  • University of Washington (MBA)

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)

NoGhosts is developing a scheduling tool designed to help daters break free from online dating’s cycle of endless scrolling, swiping, and messaging with the aim of promoting more responsible and reliable behavior by users.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

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)

One Iota Performance
One Iota Performance is developing a cloud-based software platform focused on golf that helps both athletes and coaches identify limitations to training and performance.

  • Simon Fraser University (Computer Engineering)

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)

Peko is developing an online grocery marketplace that delivers “peculiar” or surplus groceries at up to 40% off retail prices while fighting food waste and promoting access to affordable, healthy food.

  • University of British Columbia, McGill University (Marketing, Finance, Computer Science)

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)

svaa.life is developing direct-to-consumer natural and Ayurvedic wellness solutions through a line of wellness shots and effervescent tablets that are plant-based.

  • University of Washington (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)

Tenancy is developing a multisided marketplace to connect landlords, property management firms, renters, and local businesses that share needs and interests.

  • University of Washington (Executive MBA)

Tizana Mexicana
Tizana Mexicana is developing a platform centered around honoring and elevating the exceptional artistry of local artisans by connecting their generational talent with customers who share a passion for Mexican culture and traditions.

  • University of Washington (Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Master of Supply Chain Management, Marketing)

Trace Anything
Trace Anything is a drawing app that improves your drawing skills through an innovative tracing and guidance system.

  • University of Washington-Bothell (Mechanical Engineering)

Traffigram is developing a novel travel time visualization tool that allows users in time-critical settings to intuitively choose from multiple potential destinations at a glance.

  • University of Washington (Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering)

UX Health
UX Health is developing a patient-focused telehealth application for Thailand citizens suffering from type 2 diabetes.

  • University of Washington (Global Business Certificate, Master of Science in Entrepreneurship)

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 Investment Round – Alternate Teams

Comfort Cakes
Comfort Cakes created a line of unique small baked cakes that are both portable and easy-to-purchase.

  • University of Washington (Business)

NurseTech is developing a medical device that directly addresses and alleviates frustrations that patients and nurses feel when managing medical cords.

  • Oregon Health & Science University, Johns Hopkins University (Nursing, Robotics)

ReuMo is developing moss-based GSI (Greenwater Stormwater Infrastructure) kits to create accessible and affordable natural water filtration systems for communities looking to prevent stormwater pollution.

  • University of Washington (Finance and Operations, Supply Chain Management, Environmental Studies)

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