Teams Vie for $50,000 Prize at Duke Start-up Challenge

The April 11 event at the Fuqua School of Business is open to the public

Might the next great entrepreneurial idea like Facebook or Google come from Duke University? 

Thirteen different Duke student startup teams will be testing out their innovative ideas during the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge April 11. The winning team earns $50,000 in prize money.

The Start-up Challenge will be held in Geneen Auditorium at Duke's Fuqua School of Business and is open to the public.

"This year, we drew in approximately 120 Duke startup teams and connected them with over 500 judges from Silicon Valley to Singapore to Dubai," said Howie Rhee, managing director of Fuqua's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "We believe this gives Duke students the feedback and connections they need to spark their interest in entrepreneurship and help form real businesses like past competitors, including BaseTrace, ZamSolar, Oncoscope, Precision Biosciences and Centice."

The top three teams will each deliver an eight-minute investor pitch in front of a live audience, and answer questions from a select group of judges. In addition, the remaining 10 teams will deliver one-minute elevator pitches.

The 13 startups taking part in the Start-Up Challenge will address issues such as: 

-- How job seekers can more effectively manage the complexity of a job search through a single simple web application

-- Improving decades-old prosthetic arm technology, based on research by a doctoral engineering student at Duke who lost his arm in Iraq while serving in the military;

-- Using neuromarketing to directly read a consumer's brainwaves, eliminating many of the biases and shortcomings typical of marketing research methods like focus groups and surveys; 

-- Solving many of the water issues related to fracking by using an innovative membrane.

Learn more about the participating start-ups.

"Entrepreneurship and innovation are critical areas for Duke University and for the betterment of society," said Rhee. "For 14 years, the Duke Start-Up Challenge has inspired and encouraged students to take concrete steps toward starting a company." 

The keynote speaker for the event is David Cummings, a 2002 Duke graduate who recently sold one of his companies for almost $100 million. In addition, Eric Toone, director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Duke, will address the audience.

Doors open at 7 p.m. The event is also being live streamed on Duke's YouTube page.