U of A Student Innovation Team Wins Graduate Division at 20th Annual Arkansas Governor's Cup

Members of CelluDot pictured above include CEO Joseph Batta-Mpouma, (blue cap), chief research and development office Gurshagan Kandhola (grey sweater) and CFO Jaymin Patel (grey coat).
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Members of CelluDot pictured above include CEO Joseph Batta-Mpouma, (blue cap), chief research and development office Gurshagan Kandhola (grey sweater) and CFO Jaymin Patel (grey coat).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A University of Arkansas student innovation team seeking to end herbicide drift took the top prize in the graduate division of the 20th annual Arkansas Governor's Cup on Wednesday during a virtual awards ceremony.

"We see our solution adding great value to the agricultural sector not just in Arkansas, but in all states involved in soybean, cotton and corn farming," said Gurshagan Kandhola, CelluDot's chief research and development officer. 

"Our mission is to end the problem of drift with a biobased product that keeps herbicides at the target site of application, a win-win for farmers, agrochemical companies and the environment."

Kandhola added that guidance from Carol Reeves and Sarah Goforth in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, as well as Jin-Woo Kim, a professor in the university's Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, were instrumental in CelluDot's journey.

Last month, 50 students representing 18 teams from eight Arkansas universities made virtual presentations to nearly 30 judges during the final round of competition.

Teams were judged in several areas, including identification of the problems in the marketplace and how their business ideas will solve them, demonstrations of customer discovery and validation to prove viability of ideas and revealing what was learned from customer research, identification of potential competitors in the marketplace, explanations of how marketing and distribution will be addressed, addressing possible critical risks to the businesses.

"Thanks to videoconferencing technologies and the flexibility of everyone involved in this process, we've been able to pull off this competition in the midst of a world turned upside down," said Rush Deacon, CEO of ACC, which has managed the Governor's Cup since the first competition in 2001.

The distribution of the Governor's Cup $154,000 cash prize pool includes $25,000 to the winners of the graduate and undergraduate divisions, $15,000 to the second place winners in both divisions, and $10,000 for both third place winners. 

Faculty advisors for all six winning teams each received $2,000 in cash. For the Innovation Division, a winning team is chosen in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions. Each team received a $5,000 cash prize.

Other winners in the graduate division included second-place finisher T.I.B.N., also from the U of A, and Face-to-Face from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, in third.

ImmunoSense of Ouachita Baptist University, won the undergraduate division while BioPrecision of Harding University, and Never Cargo of Arkansas Tech University, finished in second and third, respectively.

About the Governor's Cup: Since 2001, more than $3 million has been contributed by sponsors to support these teams and grow our state's future entrepreneurs and business leaders, an average of $150,000 annually. The purpose of Governor's Cup remains the same as when the competition was launched 20 years ago:

  • Promote and support college students in their entrepreneurial endeavors and new venture creation

  • Encourage commercialization of promising ideas emerging from colleges and universities;

  • Build bridges between these collegiate institutions and the entrepreneurial community; and,

  • Become one of the premier business plan competitions in the United States.

Contacts

Brandon Howard, communications and social media specialist
Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
479-418-4803, bjhoward@uark.edu

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