Alfred University News

Alfred University, IncubatorWorks stage first-ever Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition

Teams of students from the three colleges and universities in Allegany County participated Saturday, April 10, in the first-ever Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition. The inaugural competition—which charged students with finding solutions to today’s problems without compromising tomorrow’s resources—reflects the growing importance of sustainability.


ALFRED, NY – Teams of students from the three colleges and universities in Allegany County participated Saturday, April 10, in the first-ever Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition. The inaugural competition—which charged students with finding solutions to today’s problems without compromising tomorrow’s resources—reflects the growing importance of sustainability.

The event was hosted by Alfred University and its Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) and was organized by IncubatorWorks of Alfred, a state-of-the-art incubator offering services and facilities to foster growth of entrepreneurial businesses in ceramics, glass, advanced materials, and related technology-based industries.

Startup Allegany is a county-wide stakeholder group that meets regularly to promote entrepreneurship in Allegany County through events and programs that nurture startups and connect them with investors and corporations. Members include Allegany County, Alfred State College, Alfred University, Houghton College, IncubatorWorks, ACCORD Corp., and the Western New York Incubator Network.

Fifteen students on six teams—two from Alfred University, three from Alfred State College, and one from Houghton College—participated in the Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition. Mentors advised competitors on developing business plans for their proposals. Much like a startup company would propose its ideas to investors, students pitched their plans to a panel of judges, engaging in a question and answer session.

The “Think Orange AgTech” team from Houghton College—Stephen Harper (business major) and Micah Condie (physics and computer science major)—claimed the $5,000 first-place prize. The team combined Harper’s business acumen with Condie’s experience in drone technology to create a method for providing small farmers with data solutions aimed at maximizing crop yield and building a sustainability.

In second place, and winner of a $1,000 prize, was the Alfred University “Innovere” team of Aiden LaCourse (glass science engineering major), Tajmaleeak Beckett (business major), and Zach Gloskin (business administration major). This team combined LaCourse’s knowledge in glass science with Beckett’s and Gloskin’s proficiency in business to develop an unbreakable and anti-microbial glass drinking straw.

The third place team, “Triboelectric Nanogenerator Mask” from Alfred State College— Brady Miller and Samantha Barker, mechanical engineering technology majors—took home a $500 prize. The team developed electronic protective masks which generate energy from talking using triboelectric nanogenerators.  The energy generated powers a touching embedded temperature sensor that is continuously monitoring the body’s temperature, which is a fever symptom of coronavirus.

The Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition and prize money was made possible by support from the event sponsors: Sealing Devices, Inc., the Alfred University College of Business, and the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University. Sealing Devices is a Lancaster, NY, firm founded by late Alfred University alumnus Terry Galanis Sr. ’40, ’19 H. His son, Terry Galanis Jr., ’19 H, is a member of the Alfred University Board of Trustees and serves as president and CEO of Sealing devices.

John Simmins ’84, ’90 Ph.D., executive director of Alfred University's Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT), was pleased with the results of the inaugural event.

“The CACT was thrilled to be a sponsor for the first Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition.  Our county’s entrepreneurial ecosystem benefits from having three institutions of higher education here, in Alfred University, Alfred State College, and Houghton College, as well as an established venture creation program at IncubatorWorks,” Simmins commented. “This program provides critical support for students to start thinking entrepreneurially, hopefully leading to the creation of new businesses that stay in the area.  Success will lead to more success, and I'm eager to see this years' winners more fully develop their businesses as a model for future student-led startups.” 

Simmins added, “One of the goals of the CACT is to support workforce development opportunities for our students. This program does that and more. Not only do students gain invaluable experience in starting a business, but if they're successful, these businesses represent jobs for graduates and other residents from across the region.”

The competition was broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube with over 250 viewers. Viewers were invited to vote for a Viewer’s Choice award; Think Orange AgTech also won this award for an additional $100 in prize money.

“The Startup Allegany partners that met weekly for months to plan, work on, and promote this competition were instrumental in making it a success,” commented Ashleigh Madison, program director for IncubatorWorks and project manager for the Startup Allegany Collegiate Competition. “We are thankful for the sponsors who stepped up with substantial cash prizes and professional IT support.  The level of professionalism and the quality of pitches was an indication of the seriousness by which the students approached this challenge; it was an exciting day for Allegany County.”

All student participants have been invited to take advantage of IncubatorWorks’ mentoring and programming free of charge.  Participants were also invited to move on to the 12th annual Capital Region Business Plan Competition.  The top two winning teams in each track at the regional level will represent the Capital Region at the New York Business Plan Competition May 7, 2021.