After five teams of Harding students submitted business plans to the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition, one of those teams went on to compete in the final round for the Innovation Award on March 30. On April 11, it was announced that Team Vitele had won first place out of approximately 36 undergraduate teams competing for the Innovation Award.
Kenneth Olree, associate professor of business and the team’s sponsor, said Team Vitele consisted of senior College of Business Administration (COBA) students Manuel Barrantes, Kyle Hoyer and Brandon Beghtol and senior engineering students Adam Baker, Tyler Arrington, and Terah Smith. Olree said the team won a $5,000 prize for their first place finish in the Innovation Award.
According to their website, The Governor’s Cup is a competition in which competitors create a business idea for a new product or service that is then taken through a real-world process of business planning. Arkansas business and community leaders then judge those plans in both written and oral rounds of the competition.
“I, personally, never really thought about the fact that we would be submitting a business plan along with 36 other undergraduate teams in the state of Arkansas,” Smith said. “But it’s cool to think about now, and it makes winning that much more rewarding.”
According to Smith, the team started when Baker, Arrington and Smith were put in the same group in their senior design class for engineering students. In this class, groups of students are asked to conceptualize, design, build and test a product. Hoyer, Beghtol and Barrantes joined later to help with the business side of the competition.
Smith said that after talking with professors and exploring the topic of telemedical devices, the group came up with the idea of a biometric harness. According to Baker, who served as the team leader, their product, Vitele, is a biomedical harness that will measure and record six key biometrics, including blood pressure, heart rate, core body temperature, galvanic skin response and heart and lung audio. The harness would then send the data to a computer via Bluetooth to a healthcare provider who is far from the patient. Smith said they began to realize the need for this kind of medical device after contacting a family physician in Alaska.
“This device could be very useful,” Olree said. “Especially in rural settings where it may take a lot of time — and thus lost work time — to travel in to a medical center to have these measurements taken one at a time in a clinic or physician’s office.”
According to Olree, the information could be uploaded and sent to the physician in an encrypted format to comply with HIPPA laws and no medical training would be needed to operate the vest.
Olree also said the team filed a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February, and their biometric harness is currently patent pending. He also said that this is the first patent application on student work to ever come out of Harding.
“When they called our team’s name as the winners, we were ecstatic,” Smith said. “I remember getting back to the table after receiving our award and looking at my teammates thinking, ‘We did it.’ It was a great moment and an incredible way to finish up my senior year here at Harding.”