UVM’s Innovation Slam Attracts a Crowd and a Senator
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
The Silver Maple Ballroom of University of Vermont’s Davis Center was a hub of creative entrepreneurship on the morning of Oct. 17, as the university hosted its first ever Innovation Slam.
Six UVM-affiliated innovators each had five minutes -- and one slide -- to tell the stories of their new companies and products in a lightning round of talks.
Following the talks, UVM alumnus and trustee Briar Alpert, CEO of Burlington-based BioTek, delivered a keynote address.
Among the 75 attendees at the event was Sen. Patrick Leahy, long a supporter of innovation at UVM, who made it a point to talk with each presenter and with nine other UVM affiliated entrepreneurs who exhibited at tables around the perimeter of the room.
President Tom Sullivan and Provost David Rosowsky also attended. The presentation were presided over by Richard Galbraith, vice president for research.
“This event was an important showcase for entrepreneurship at UVM,” Galbraith said. “Thanks to the energy and ideas of the participants and the engagement of the people who attended, it was also interesting, rewarding and fun. I was especially grateful to Sen. Leahy for attending. He has long been a sponsor of exactly the kind of creativity that was on display on Monday morning. We’re grateful for his many years of support.”
“You hear snippets” about UVM’s growing success as a sponsor of entrepreneurship, “but this event was a great opportunity see a lot of really neat projects from professors, students and alumni that have formed companies that look like they’re ready to do really well,” said Lizzy Pope, assistant professor of nutrition and food sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who gave an Innovation Slam presentation on an app she is developing with the local firm GameTheory that incentivizes teens to exercise.
Another Innovation Slam presenter, Pete Silverman, co-founder of Beacon-VT, which connects students with project-based work at local companies, was similarly impressed with the quality of the UVM spinoff companies present at the event, but also saw another benefit.
“I thought it was an excellent networking opportunity,” said Silverman, a junior in the Grossman School of Business, adding that his firm picked up 10 or 12 new clients among the students who attended the event.
The UVM events kicked off BTV Ignite’s Innovation Week, Oct. 17 through 21, a series of events held in locations around the city that highlight Burlington’s emerging status as a hub of entrepreneurship and technological innovation.
Companies and founder-presenters participating in the Innovation Slam include (in the order they presented):
- BeaconVT, presented by current UVM student and co-founder Pete Silverman;
- Packetized Energy, presented by co-founder Jeff Frolik, professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences;
- GameTheory, presented by Shannon Mitchell of GameTheory and GameTheory client Lizzy Pope, assistant professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics;
- EASY LLC, presented by Mike Coleman, co-founder and vice president;
- SAP! Maple products, presented co-founder Chas Smith, a UVM SEMBA alumnus;
- Mamava, presented by UVM alumna Sascha Mayer, co-founder