National law firm Polsinelli has partnered with The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis to become the inaugural sponsor of its Discovery Competition. The program, which was created in 2012 and is now in its second year, aims to promote new and innovative inventions to solve a particular challenge or need. The competition is designed to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and provide up to $25,000 in cash, and $7,500 in legal services from Polsinelli for innovative business ventures.
“Polsinelli’s commitment to the Discovery Competition is a tremendous asset to this program,” Ralph S. Quatran, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science said. “Our student entrepreneurs will greatly benefit from the experienced and dedicated legal counsel provided through this arrangement, as they move their business ventures from an idea to a reality. The advice they receive will position their companies to grow and flourish in the years to come.”
Funded by alumni, the Discovery Competition provides engineering undergraduate students the forum to explore their entrepreneurial interests with support from mentors, to use their creativity to develop solutions for real-world problems, and to compete for financial resources that could help turn their ideas into businesses. Teams are composed of currently enrolled Washington University undergraduate students, with at least one engineering student and one non-engineering student.
As part of a three-year, strategic sponsorship agreement, Polsinelli attorneys will provide $7,500 worth of in-kind services annually, with $5,000 going to the first place team and $2,500 to the second place winner.
“Polsinelli understands the important role entrepreneurism plays in fostering a strong business community,” Andy Hoyne, science and technology shareholder at Polsinelli said. “Both nationally and locally, supporting programs such as the Discovery Competition is an area on which Polsinelli places tremendous value. We are excited to be a strategic partner for the Discovery Competition and look forward to a long-term role in the program’s success.”
The sponsorship is just one example of the strong and on-going support Polsinelli provides to develop and cultivate the entrepreneurial communities in the cities where the firm has offices. In St. Louis, the firm also supports the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Arch Grants, the Olin Cup Competition, the Information Technology Entrepreneur Network (ITEN), Capital Innovators, The Center for Emerging Technologies, SixThirty Fin Tech Accelerator, and the SLU Center for Entrepreneurs.
As a national law firm, the multidisciplinary attorneys of Polsinelli are at the forefront of delivering the entire spectrum of the legal services for entrepreneurs throughout the United States. On the path to success, Polsinelli helps entrepreneurial clients form, structure, organize, manage and find funding for their businesses.
In addition, Polsinelli attorneys provide advice concerning choice of entity, ownership structure, private equity financings, venture capital transactions, merger and acquisitions, and management buyouts. They also assist with the identification of opportunities, development and protection of intellectual property assets, compliance with and navigation of complex industry and government regulations, and the fight to protect a business’ interests.
As a result of the firm’s experience, passion and focus, Polsinelli has represented the fastest-growing companies in the United States, in a variety of industries including Internet security, telecommunications, financial services, e-commerce, social media firms, software, biotechnology, and pioneers in the fields of alternative and clean energy
The 2014 Discover Competition is already underway. A group of 10 semi-finalist teams will present their progress in mid-March, after which the competition’s finalists will be selected. Those finalists will subsequently present to a panel of judges for the $25,000 prize in mid-April, when the 2014 competition winners will be announced.
Last year’s Discovery Competition winner was Sparo Labs. In 2013, more than 40 teams competed for the top prize of $25,000. The winning company’s business plan stems from an award-winning project to develop a low-cost, pocket-sized spirometer, which measures lung function.
Sparo Labs plans to further develop the product to prepare it for clinical trials, with the end goal of the device be available for use by individuals not only in the United States, but also in developed countries to better monitor lung disorders and by health-care providers in developing countries to better diagnose lung disorders such as asthma, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis.
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