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WVU Launch Lab competitions produce ideas to benefit local communities, state

A new and innovative energy bar for endurance athletes is the newest idea to come from West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network.

From left to right: Alex Irwin, Sarah Gordon, Jesica Temple, and Julian Figaretti.

Julian Figaretti, owner of the Little Hemp Seeds LLC, won first place at the first-annual Adventure Recreation Pitch Competition, an event co-hosted by the WVU Launch Lab Network and Adventure WV. Figaretti’s idea of “Beet Bites” won him a grand prize of $1,500.

“The overall goal for all of this was not to just have something that was product-based but something that would impact the communities of West Virginia,” said Andrew Walker, program and logistics specialist for Adventure WV. “We were able to see that there are lots of ideas out there for high school students and for college students.”

Sarah Gordon, Alex Irwin and Jesica Temple also participated in the competition. This is the third of four pitch competitions to be hosted by the LaunchLab Network this semester.

Four teams presented their five-minute pitches, followed by a five-minute question and answer period. Winners were chosen by attendee votes and a panel of experts that included professionals from WVU’s Division of Forestry & Natural Resources at West Virginia University, Adventure WV, Pathfinder of West Virginia and the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative at WVU.

In addition to the competitors, three high school groups presented ideas in order to obtain pitching experience. A group of students from Oak Hill High School was awarded $250 for their idea of a 4H Outdoor Adventure Club that aims to get area students involved in an outdoor adventure program that offers unique opportunities otherwise not available to them.

Operating since 2014, the WVU LaunchLab Network serves as a comprehensive, one-stop-shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models. The LaunchLab Network is comprised of applied innovation centers at all three regional WVU campuses to provide students with a collaborative environment to promote their development as entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers.

The LaunchLab Network is a part of the IDEA Hub, which offers a vast network of resources and opportunities to redefine entrepreneurship and innovation as a commitment to solving a problem or challenge. The IDEA Hub allows students, faculty, staff and members of the community to access the necessary connections to foster transformative initiatives and programs across WVU and the greater West Virginia community as a whole.

Chambers College