UW-Green Bay student Sydney Gang holds up the certificate for finishing first place in the WiSys Innovation On-Ramp Pitch Competition at UW-Green Bay on March 4 at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts (Photo Courtesy of Dan Moore, UW-Green Bay).
GREEN BAY—UW-Green Bay business administration student Sydney Gang’s idea for an innovative athletic knee sleeve took first place and a $1,000 prize in the inaugural WiSys Innovation On-Ramp Pitch Competition at UW-Green Bay on March 4.
The pitch competition was an optional capstone event at the end of a four-week learning experience meant to teach students how to be an effective problem-solver and advance their ideas.
The WiSys Innovation On-Ramp learning experience—open to all UW-Green Bay students from all campuses and fields of study—included mentorship, networking and workshops to build an innovation skill set.
Gang’s pitch “Save Time and Skip the Warm Up” was for an improvement to knee sleeves, which are often worn by weightlifters and athletes to provide support to joints. Gang’s approach allows athletes to add heat to the knee sleeves to help prevent injuries, reduce pain and maximize performance.
“Congratulations to Sydney for coming up with a marketable and innovative idea and then doing the work to deliver a tremendous pitch,” said Arjun Sanga, president of WiSys, a nonprofit organization that supports research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the UW System. “WiSys is honored to partner with UW-Green Bay to support innovative students like Sydney as they take their classroom knowledge to the next level and apply it in innovative ways.”
By winning the competition, Gang is now eligible to compete in WiSys’ statewide entrepreneurship contest, the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, in April. The Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, which also accepts at-large entries (wisys.org/bigidea), gives student entrepreneurs statewide exposure, a chance to win cash prizes and ignite their startup ideas.
The pitch for “Diverse Hair Salon” from business administration students Nathan Bihini and Bethan Rihn and marketing students Alek Lapp and Lisa Smith took second place and a $500 prize in the competition.
The team’s goal was to offer Green Bay’s growing diverse population a hair care option that “satisfies everyone’s needs” no matter the type of hair.
Marketing student Lauren Krainik and business students Emmeline Vance, Diana Lemus and Ana Alfaro took third place and a $250 prize for their team’s “Campus Connect” app pitch.
The app would foster “meaningful relationships” by helping students find roommates, study partners, clubs and student organizations, as well as people for hangouts.
Overall, the event featured five pitches and 15 UW-Green Bay students. The pitches were judged by experts in the field of business, technology and entrepreneurship:
- Terry Bush, President, Igiene Labs.
- Tony Hanson, Manager of Intellectual Property and Licensing, WiSys.
- Matthew Kee, Startup Development Manager, Greater Green Bay Chamber.
- Dianne Murphy, Assistant Professor of Management, UW-Green Bay.
ABOUT WISYS INNOVATION ON-RAMP
Although WiSys Innovation On-Ramp is new this year, WiSys has been working with UW-Green Bay for several years to provide students with innovation skill-building programming.
WiSys Innovation in Aging, which focused on providing innovative solutions to aging issues, took place from 2017 to 2021. The name was changed to WiSys Innovation On-Ramp and the format was broadened to allow students to explore a wider range of innovations.
"This year's competition energized our students with its broader theme ("Innovation On-Ramp: To a Better Tomorrow") and more flexible learning format," said Susan Gallagher-Lepak, Dean of the College of Health, Education and Social Welfare at UW-Green Bay. "Our students have great ideas and want to be part of creating a brighter future."
One hundred and sixteen students registered to participate in the educational portion of WiSys Innovation On-Ramp this year. Through the online course and weekly interactive sessions, available in-person and virtually, students learned how to:
- Identify a problem.
- Develop an innovative solution.
- Define a market.
- Perfect a pitch.
Participating students, who complete the course requirements, will receive a digital Innovative Thinking badge from WiSys to boost their resume and recognize their new innovation competencies.
WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.