A team of business students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have won second place and a $3,000 prize at the international Ivey Business Plan Competition held Jan. 25-27 in Ontario, Canada, for their business plan for a device designed to help interventional cardiologists perform minimally invasive heart surgery with greater safety and efficiency.
The team is comprised of UA Little Rock students Noah Asher, senior finance and economics major, Abigail Resendiz, senior international business and management major, and Zach Cochran, senior economics major.
The group collaborated with Arkansas Cardiology Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Dwight Chrisman and Baptist Health Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit Nurse Anna Helm to commercialize a medical device invented by Chrisman. The device, the “Speed-Torque,” is a medical torque device used by surgeons in minimally invasive heart surgery, also known as interventional cardiology procedures.
The Ivey Business Plan Competition, sponsored by CIBC World Markets and IBK Capital Corp, allows student teams from across North America to compete for $40,000 in prizes as well as test their venture ideas with experienced entrepreneurs, meet potential investors, and raise funds.
“It was an extremely close competition with a lot of fantastic companies and entrepreneurs,” said Asher. “We are of course disappointed with coming in second, but we are very happy with our performance and are excited to see how we do in competitions to come.”
Asher is no stranger to success in business and entrepreneurship competitions. He was part of a team of UA Little Rock students who won the undergraduate division of the Arkansas Governor’s Cup and a $25,000 prize last year for their business plan for Spritum Solutions, a mouth guard designed so that patients undergoing surgery or bronchoscope procedures do not damage their mouths by biting down on the tubes. Additionally, Asher received a $2,000 cash prize for winning the undergraduate elevator pitch competition.
He is confident that he a great team that will see many successes this year as the students are planning to compete in several more competitions, including the Arkansas Governor’s Cup, Texas Christian University’s Values and Ventures Competition, and the RICE Business Plan Competition in Texas.
“Between the clinical expertise Dr. Chrisman and Anna provide and the business skills and background of Abby and Zach, this is one of the strongest and most experienced teams I have ever had the privilege of working on,” Asher said. “I’m very excited to see what the future holds for us.”
The team’s mentor, Martial Trigeaud, a UA Little Rock adjunct professor and business consultant at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, said he was extremely proud of the team’s performance.
“These are incredibly challenging competitions, so to even be invited to travel to Ivey to compete is a success,” Trigeaud said. “I am very proud of what the team has accomplished, and I am waiting for the next business plan competition.”
In the upper right photo, a team of business students (Zach Cochran, bottom left, Noah Asher, center, and Abigail Resendiz, bottom right) from UA Little Rock have won second place at the international Ivey Business Plan Competition. The students collaborated with Arkansas Cardiology Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Dwight Christman, back left, Baptist Health Cardiovascular Nurse Anna Helm, center left, and Martial Tregeaud, back right, to commercialize a medical device invented by Chrisman to help cardiologists perform heart surgery with greater safety and efficiency. Photo by Ben Krain.