ST. GEORGE – A Hurricane company making do-it-yourself LED “maker” kits won the grand prize of $23,500 in cash and services at the “Concept to Company” contest awards ceremony Friday at Dixie State University in St. George.
Paul Hill and Jacob Porter of Clover Technology won the prize for their entry, the Lux Cube, a do-it-yourself electronics kit designed to be built in about three hours.
“We want youth to pursue computer science and engineering,” Hill said. “A lot of youth (ages) 12 to 18 are trying to figure out what they’re interested in. We’re creating these for them so that they can have an enjoyable maker experience.”
The company hopes to encourage young people to pursue STEM careers, that is, those in science, technology, engineering and math, Hill said.
“The Lux Cube is an LED light cube that we made to help youth get involved in STEM education.”
The company plans to expand sales and production of the Lux Cube with the prize money and services awarded in the competition. The next steps in the business plan, Hill said, are to make the LED light cube more easily programmable and possibly adding an app and a user interface.
Clover Technology was one of eight finalists presenting their ideas at Friday’s gathering. Runners-up were Lumen by Elite Creators, a waist pack with built-in lights for nighttime running, and Rail Beacon by T3ri, a software/hardware system that tracks the location of railroad maintenance equipment and rail cars.
The event marked the end of a competition that invited entries from both tech and nontech businesses, Justin Bott, chief operating officer of event co-sponsor Grow Utah, said. The contest was open to any new product or service that has been in the marketplace for a year or less.
About 80 entrepreneurs from Southern Utah entered the competition, Bott said, double the number in previous competitions.
Cash prizes totaling $25,500 and services worth $32,500 were awarded. Services included accounting, web development, startup training, marketing, legal, public relations and marketing.
Grow Utah, is a privately-funded nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the creation of innovative businesses that will strengthen and expand Utah’s economy, Bott said. To date, Grow Utah and its major backers Zions Bank, Arches Healthcare, Durham Jones & Pinegar and Mountain West Small Business Finance have held 26 contests throughout Utah and distributed more than $1.2 million in cash and services to winning entrepreneurs.
In-kind services include legal counseling from Durham Jones & Pinegar, accounting services from Savage, Esplin & Radmall PC, web development from Velocity Webworks, digital marketing services from Voxxy, technology services from Watchman Technologies, marketing communications from Rukkus Communication Strategies as well as mentoring from experienced local entrepreneurs and investors.
“Concept to Company” contests have been held four or five times each year since 2008, Bott said. Each contest is held in a different region of the state and focuses on a different industry niche. The Southern Utah competition is typically open to any innovation but focuses on technology, health care and consumer products. This is the seventh consecutive year that a contest has been held in St. George.
USTAR, the Utah Science and Technology Research Agency and Dixie State University’s Udvar-Hazy School of Business co-sponsored the event with Grow Utah.
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