An undergraduate student team representing the Gordon Ford College of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation took home the top prize of $10,000 in the Alltech Innovation Competition held April 1 in Lexington.
The Tech Gnar team, consisting of Owensboro natives Blake Knott, Taylor Wathen, and Zachary Wathen, presented a new technology in music recognition that will recommend songs to users that match current interests. They plan to launch their website and an app by the end of the year.
The prize money of $10,000 was the same amount of money with which Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech’s founder, started the company. Alltech is now an almost $2 billion company.
“We plan on using at least half of the winnings to rush the market with advertising when we launch at year end,” said junior mechanical engineering student Blake Knott. “It validates the many hours of hard work that our team and advisers have put into Tech Gnar. The idea of Tech Gnar itself is very complex and it is especially gratifying to hear from a panel of judges that they believe in our idea.”
Seven universities from across the Commonwealth sent teams to the competition. The groups are divided into graduate teams and undergraduate teams. Teams present their ideas in 15-minute business plan pitches.
“They did such an excellent job and we are very proud of them,” said Dr. Dawn Bolton, Director of the Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
“The tireless efforts of the leadership of the Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation are resulting in outstanding student achievements,” said Dr. Jeff Katz, Dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business.
The Alltech Innovation Competition started in 2013 in Kentucky and Ireland to challenge university students to develop innovative ideas. The annual competition celebrates entrepreneurship and the impact of cross-functional teamwork on business development.
“This honors Kentucky students that have entrepreneurial aspirations,” said Meghan Niehaus, coordinator of the competition.