Sweet 16 Selected in All-Virtual Dempsey Startup Competition

ore than 175 judges selected 16 teams to move forward in the 2020 Dempsey Startup Competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.Thirty student teams cast a spell over the judges at this year’s all-virtual Investment Round of the 2020 Dempsey Startup Competition. Each team performed digital magic in their own virtual meeting rooms by showcasing pitches, prototypes, and innovations as if a lifetime of growing up in the online age prepared them for just this moment. More than 175 judges selected 16 teams (detailed below) to move forward in the competition hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.

The Sweet 16 teams now prepare to compete May 21 in the next round of the multi-stage competition (formerly known as the UW Business Plan Competition) which entered its 23rd year in 2020. From that group, judges will select the Top 4 to compete in the Final Round the same afternoon. An awards presentation will follow the next day on the Buerk Center’s YouTube page.

Each of the 30 teams who competed in the Investment Round were eligible to earn one of ten $5,000 Big Picture and $2,500 Best Idea prizes. Those who did not advance still received feedback on their ideas from the top names in entrepreneurship, venture capital, angel investing, and more from the Seattle startup ecosystem. Including the top four prizes, the Buerk Center will award $75,000 overall this year and will top $1.6 million awarded over the life of the competition.

This year’s Sweet 16 teams have students representing schools including the University of Washington, Seattle University, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Five of the 16 teams have students on them from the Foster School’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program. Ten of the teams competed previously in either the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge or Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge earlier this year.

The Buerk Center would like to thank the 28 sponsors who supported the Dempsey Startup this year as well as UW alum Neal Dempsey, whose gift in 2019 helped the Buerk Center expand the competition into Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Over the past 23 years, the event has had 5,480 student participants on 1,755 teams. Of that group, 196 teams have been awarded undiluted seed funding. Overall, the Buerk Center has awarded more than $3.4 million dollars to students since 1998 through multiple competitions and the Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Congratulations to the 2020 Sweet 16 teams in the all-virtual Dempsey Startup Competition!

Dempsey Startup Sweet 16 Teams

ApnoMed is a developer of patented, FDA-cleared medical devices and treatment protocols used to prevent, manage and treat patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition where patients stop breathing while asleep.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (MS in Entrepreneurship)

Aquagga, an impact-driven B-Corp, uses advanced manufacturing to produce bolt-on water treatment platforms that destroy toxic water contaminants, such as PFAS, via the unique properties of supercritical water.

  • University of Washington-Seattle, University of Alaska-Fairbanks (Mechanical Engineering, Engineering)

Arogya is an integrated washer/dryer which provides a non-electric mechanized solution for households in low-resource areas to wash, dry, and disinfect dirty clothing at an affordable cost.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Bioengineering, Psychology)

BioArchos cleans the air in a more energy efficient way than conventional ventilation alone. Picture it as a tree for the indoors.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering & Mechatronics)

Bluebox Labs
We add Tesla software and computer vision capabilities to any existing car for $200 and enable an ecosystem of unique SaaS products that protect and save thousands of dollars for working drivers (Uber/Lyft, food delivery, contractors) and more.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computers Science and Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering)

bThere.ai provides software as a service that enables robot developers to remotely monitor and control wheeled, semi-autonomous robots.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (MS in Entrepreneurship)

We use a natural ingredient from cacao beans to increase the efficiency of LED bulbs and reduce the manufacturing cost and risks in supply chain by replacing rare-earth elements that are used in existing LEDs.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Materials Science and Engineering, MBA)

Kokanee Systems
Kokanee provides a comprehensive real-time water quality monitoring system to restore the health of freshwater resources. It detects contamination events, helps identify the source, and alerts field personnel so the problem can be addressed.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Marine Affairs, MS in Entrepreneurship, Public Policy and Governance, Computer Science and Engineering)

Pail is a deliciously fun lunch subscription service for children K-8 delivering ready to eat school lunches weekly. Parents set a healthiness goal and kids customize to their taste buds while Pail takes care of the rest and adds some fun extras.

  • Seattle University (Business and Economics)

Perfect Coffee Water
Perfect Coffee Water helps optimize the coffee brewing process by connecting brewers to water with the best chemistry for brewing coffee, thus removing one more barrier to enjoying the perfect cup of coffee.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (MS in Entrepreneurship)

SENSOL Systems
Challenging the built environment, SENSOL Systems is an innovative crosswalk technology that saves lives by changing the way pedestrians are seen on the road.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Landscape Architecture, Materials Science and Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Informatics, Interactive Design)

Spira is an AI service for telehealth which enables someone to get a clinical quality respiratory disease screening with just a smartphone.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Computer Science)

STRIPPED is a body positive, inclusive, comfort lingerie company creating innovative bra-lettes for under-served markets. Our bra-lette surpasses the current market scope by offering more coverage, comfort, and support.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Business, Law, Societies, and Justice)

The 2050 Company
The 2050 Company creates value-added food products that reduce waste in the food industry. Our first product, The 2050 Smoothie, is made from rescued produce and can be prepared in less than a minute!

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Informatics, MS in Entrepreneurship, Business Administration)

The Subline
The Subline uses prescriptive analytics to minimize time spent managing inventory while recapturing losses from operational waste. We get owners out of the freezer in the back to focusing on delivering delicious food to their customers up front.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Human-Computer Interaction and Design, MBA)

Our strategy is to create a world of informed voters, that are counted as intended, with security and audit capabilities via an online voting experience.

  • Seattle University (Business and Economics)

Dempsey Startup Sweet 16 Alternates

nextNEST creates a pathway to ownership for renters in high-cost urban areas. By purchasing a share in the nextNEST club, members build wealth through shared equity, gain access to a portfolio of housing in major US cities, and join a fun community.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Business)

A totally automated all-in-one malting machine that allows microbreweries, for the first time ever, to malt barley in-house without having to tend to the process during the hours the brewery isn’t operating.

  •     Eastern Washington University (Management of Information Systems, Mechanical Engineering)