UNM Rainforest Innovations

Albuquerque, NM – April 19, 2021 –During an inspiring virtual event, five student entrepreneur teams went head-to-head and pitched their big ideas to a virtual audience of investors, business leaders, entrepreneurs and enthusiastic supporters.

The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition was co-hosted by UNM Rainforest Innovations and the UNM Innovation Academy, the University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development organization and entrepreneurial studies program. Sponsored by Comcast, the competition offered a platform for student entrepreneurs who want to start or are already operating an early-stage company to present and launch their innovations. Comcast provided a $20,000 prize pool for the five finalists who pitched their innovative ideas and early-stage companies to investor judges.

The winners were:

  • First Place $10,000 Prize – Alexander Hafez, Circular Genomics – A circular RNA technology to help in the clinical fight against depression.
  • Second Place $5,000 Prize – Isabel Last & Miguel Roman, Faena – A research-based, intuitive video game to engage language learning for non-native speakers.
  • Third Place $2,500 Prize – Savannah Hoover, Modest House – An app to help millennials “Learn, Turn and Earn” in today’s real estate market.
  • Finalist $1,250 Prize – Daniel Martinez, Omnos Sleep – An innovative device for the treatment of sleep apnea.
  • Finalist $1,250 Prize – Tina Memarian, Lamiflo – An innovative solution for ischemic strokes.

“The Comcast Pitch Deck Competition was a great opportunity to get meaningful experience presenting to and answering questions from individuals who are business leaders in New Mexico,” said Alexander Hafez, PhD student and grand prize winner. “I look forward using their feedback to help Circular Genomics grow into a successful business.”

Pitch deck competitions go further than the typical elevator pitch by including visual representations and summaries for a new company, business plan or startup vision. The goals of a pitch deck are to spark interest from potential investors, meet investors and give entrepreneurs more experience presenting to audiences. Judges looked for quality of message delivery through non-verbal cues, (voice, eye contact, gestures, movement) and persuasive and creative content which “connects all the dots” toward commercialization.

“I am so grateful to have participated in the 2021 pitch competition, and I am proud to have represented the UNM School of Law in the final five. Providing these spaces for innovation is so critical,” said Savannah Hoover, Pitch Deck Participant and JD/MBA program student. “A huge thank you to the sponsors, show runners, and participants for such an engaging experience.”

Comcast sponsored the 2019 Comcast Pitch Deck Competition which awarded nearly $20,000 to five student entrepreneur teams.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

About Innovation Academy
The Innovation Academy is a mindset shared by the UNM Community that asks “how do we teach and learn best so that students are prepared for life beyond college?” Based on the Rainforest theory of a bottom-up approach to innovation, iA encourages different people and groups to come together to create.  It is a cross-pollinating approach to finding solutions to problems and developing new ideas. It is based on the belief that solutions can be found when people with different backgrounds and skills come together to work on real problems and needs coming from companies and the community.  This type of experiential, or hands-on, learning prepares students to be successful in careers and work places in the real world and deepen their core subject knowledge.  Visit innovationacademy.unm.edu/ for more information.

About UNM Rainforest Innovations
 As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico (UNM), UNM Rainforest Innovations (formerly STC.UNM) protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace. We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. Our vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be a leader in technology commercialization.  Under the leadership of CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila, UNM Rainforest Innovations is substantially growing its program using the Rainforest model to develop an innovation economy in New Mexico. Visit our website at www.innovations.unm.edu

Media Contacts

UNM Rainforest Innovations
Savanah Romero – sromero@innovations.unm.edu

Kyle Biederwolf – kyle_biederwolf@comcast.com


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