Washington State University’s Center for Innovation awarded three startups with mentorship and support valued at $25,000 to launch business ideas related to solving coronavirus-related challenges.
WSU’s Center for Innovation evaluated more than 40 business ideas prior to selecting three winners that pitched their proposals to a panel of community judges.
The three winners were WiseWater, SniffAlert and FarmTable.
WiseWater uses a system that can be used on faucets to ensure users follow proper handwashing protocols per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SniffAlert is a company that provides training for household dogs to “sniff out” COVID-19 and other illnesses. And FarmTable addresses disruptions in the local food system due to the pandemic by using a mobile app that will include a regional food directory and catalog.
DeconCube was a runner-up in the contest. The company pitched a business idea for a tabletop device with UV technology for rapid sanitation of handheld items, such as keys and cell phones.
“The submissions for the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge proved that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Spokane,” April Needham, director of the WSU Center for Innovation, said in a statement. “To see the willingness of entrepreneurs to tackle a global challenge like COVID-19 is inspirational and shows how much people in the greater Spokane region care. I’m excited to see these companies move forward in the business process.”
Each winner is receiving mentorship in all phases of business development, including feasibility testing, prototyping guidance, market validation, funding connections and product launch, among other things.
The WSU Extension Office in Stevens County is assisting with market research.
The companies are beginning the prototyping stage of development in which they will work with GIZMO – which provides tools and mentors in a collaborative workspace in Coeur d’Alene – via a partnership with the North Idaho College Venture Network.
Life sciences incubator Spinout Space in Spokane is also providing mentorship and coaching to assist the three startups in developing their business ideas.
The WSU Center for Innovation provides free technical assistance and applied research to new and existing businesses in the region.The competition was made possible with funding from the CARES Act.