The winner of the statewide pitch competition will take home $15,000 in startup funding
A record five current University of New England students, and one alum, representing three business startups, have advanced to the televised round of the “Greenlight Maine” Collegiate Challenge, set to begin airing later this month.
This is the third year UNE has been represented on the televised pitch competition. In 2020, alum Jillian Robillard ’20 (Marine Entrepreneurship), bested the competition to take home the grand prize.
This year, alum Patrick Schena ’21 (Business); Colin Casamento (Business, ’22); and a team of Class of 2022 Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) students — Valerie Nesom, Cassidy Sirois, Jonathan Lindau, and Taylor Lockwood — will compete against students from six other colleges, universities, and institutes in Maine for the chance to win up to $15,000 in business funding.
Ready Set Return
Nesom, Sirois, Lindau, and Lockwood will kick off the show’s season on March 24 as they pit their mobile app, Ready Set Return (RSR), against the breast cancer detection device MammoWAVED.
The health care app aids in the return-to-play process for those who have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and have undergone surgery. Ready Set Return allows health care providers to utilize current evidence-based criteria to inform return-to-play decisions and implement best practices while interfacing directly with their clients digitally.
The immediate impact of the app is targeted at overall improvement of patient care and increased access to quality health care.
“ACL rehabilitation is of interest to me both as a PT student and a certified athletic trainer,” Sirois remarked. “After the design of the app came to life, it was an easy choice for us to participate in the ‘Greenlight Maine’ challenge, and it feels really awesome to have our hard work showcased to the public.”
The prize money would help fund a designer to make graphical changes to the app and enhance user experience.
The mobile app design process was a learning experience, the students reflected.
“When thinking about the apps that we use every day, it amazes me that they all had to go through this lengthy process just to become available for download,” Lindau said, while Nesom remarked that the research development is, “something [she] can benefit from as a future clinician.”
For Lockwood, a Glenville, New York, native who experienced gaps in her own ACL injury care, work on the application is personal.
“The lack of standardization in my care resulted in a variety of approaches in my treatment and ultimately prolonged my recovery,” she said. “I could have benefited from an app such as RSR to help create clear guidelines for clinicians to follow.”
Patrick Schena, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in technology innovation at Boston University, will make his television appearance on April 7. Schena is competing with his startup company Goalivation, a hockey goaltending training accessory designed to improve visual attachment and tracking quality when the puck is shot at the goaltender.
Goalivation uses camera-based technology to record on-ice hockey practices from both the goalie’s and shooter’s perspectives. It combines artificial intelligence with video replay to analyze body movements and visual attachment for ice hockey goaltenders and their coaches to make game-changing adjustments.
If he wins, Schena said the money will allow him to hire an AI coder to finalize Goalivation.
“It’s honestly really cool to be a contestant on ‘Greenlight Maine,’” Schena said. “I didn’t expect this kind of response from my project idea, and it’s been really encouraging for me.”
Goalivation will go head-to-head against Mallard Enterprises, a provider of runway independent amphibious aircraft that connects people, cargo, and services.
When Colin Casamento turned 21, he couldn’t help but notice the long lines for bars and restaurants during his summer stays in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. So, he created LiveBar, a geolocated mobile app that tracks wait times and crowds at bars and restaurants.
LiveBar allows users and bar owners to input the estimated wait time at their current venues so that others are aware, before queuing up, how long they may have to wait. Users can also upload photos, rate venues, and comment in real time about the bar experience.
“The goal of the app is to prevent people from having to spend money at places they maybe didn’t want to go to or don’t like because their preferred location is full, or to prevent them from taxiing to a bar only to find out that there is a two-hour wait to get in,” Casamento said. “That way, people can spend less money and have more fun.”
The app already has over 1,000 users and is a growing brand on several college campuses. Casamento said its design offers a strong model for scaling up and that the grand prize money would help jumpstart an ambassador program on college campuses.
Casamento will appear on “Greenlight Maine” on April 21 and will compete against Move Free, a mission-driven lifestyle brand for outdoor enthusiasts.
All contestants will compete against each other for prizes of $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place and $7,500 for third place. They will be judged by Garvan Donegan, director of planning innovation, and economic development at the Central Maine Growth Council; Melissa Marcaurelle, senior vice president of consumer banking operations at Bangor Savings Bank; and Amy Lesure, a senior investment officer at the Maine Technology Institute.
“It's great to see the Maine Ideas Challenge serve as a pipeline for student ideas and innovation,” said Justine Bassett, M.S., director of Innovation and the makerspace at UNE. “We were able to teach health care students about app design and business students about prototyping and AI. Whether or not they win, these students have grown as innovators and changemakers, and those skills will serve them well in their respective careers.”
All episodes of the “Greenlight Maine” Collegiate Challenge will air at 8 p.m. on Maine Public.