GCU team takes 3rd in BioAccel Solutions Challenge
By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
Knees were shaking early, but by late Thursday night Mikee Garcia and Vaugn Devera had extra funds in their pockets and confidence their plan can take them places.
Garcia, a Grand Canyon University senior, and Devera, a recent pre-med graduate of GCU, earned third place out of 10 entries and won $1,500 in the student/university competition of the BioAccel Solutions Challenge. They presented their plaque to GCU President Brian Mueller on Friday morning.
Armed with additional money to spend on research and development for HandleHealth, a copper-infused spray or liquid that can act as an anti-microbial on doorknobs, beds and other high-germ items in hospitals, schools and beyond, their networking and discussions with potential suitors from the night suggest they’re headed toward better things.
“We got a lot of positive feedback, and even (judges and potential investors) said afterward that we nailed our presentation,” Garcia said. “We were passionate, prepared and knew what we were talking about. We represented GCU very well.
“Copper could be the next gold.”
There have been initial conversations with DignityHealth, St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and others about developing and refining their product. Garcia said St. Joe’s has discussed giving them doorknobs to be used for testing. Following finals and the holiday break, they’ll be back to work conducting research and seeking additional funding.
They appreciated the help they got from Mueller; Dr. Randy Gibb, dean of the Colangelo College of Business; Tim Kelley, CCOB assistant professor of entrepreneurship and economics; Dr. Jon Valla, assistant dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology; and Haley Fagerlie, CSET associate director. Their Thursday result was a first step in legitimizing their idea and turning it into a real-world solution.
The annual Canyon Challenge next spring will provide another opportunity to pitch their product, but securing more definitive research conclusions and trials is next. They were ready to answer any questions about their product but were disappointed there was no Q&A portion of Thursday’s presentation.
Then again, answering through science and data from labs will reveal the definitive answers.
“First place, no place, we won no matter what,” Devera said. “That’s a great feeling. We got our feet wet, and now we have to swim.”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or [email protected]