Campus News

Entrepreneurs Celebrated at 2016 UK Venture Studio Bootcamp Graduation

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2016) The University of Kentucky’s Venture Studio Entrepreneurs Bootcamp program recently graduated 42 participants from various colleges across campus and the Lexington community.

As part of the program, teams had pitched their final presentations in an effort to earn prize money. The results of the competition were announced at the graduation ceremony:

  • First place: Stillage Solutions, $1,000, Steve Lipka/Center for Applied Energy Research
  • Second place: SynBio, $800, Joe Chappell/College of Pharmacy
  • Third place: Altelier, $600, Shylo Shepherd/community project
  • Fourth place: Re-Vision, $400, Ann Morris/Department of Biology
  • Fifth place: I-Remember, $250, Marissa Wilson/College of Design graduate student

This year, two teams received the Von Allmen Center Director’s Choice Award and $150 for showcasing immense hard work and dedication to their startup ideas:

  • Local Language, Melody Ryan and Hartley Feld, College of Pharmacy and College of Nursing, and
  • MiniPantry, Ila McEntire, UK staff member/University Press of Kentucky

Among those in attendance at the Bootcamp graduation were Dean David Blackwell of the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Gatton Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Outreach Ken Troske, and UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday.

Blackwell said he is impressed with the program and its participants.

“The Venture Studio’s Entrepreneurs Bootcamp program and its efforts directly showcase and support the University of Kentucky’s goals and strategic mission. It’s amazing to see the diversity of participants and broad range of students, faculty, staff and community members that have come together through the program.”

Blackwell also praised the efforts of Warren Nash, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship and the Lexington Office of the Kentucky Innovation Network within Gatton College, along with Mariam Gorjian, commercialization specialist for the Von Allmen Center.

Nash expressed his thanks to people who have given financial support to the program.

“We’re greatly appreciative to our donors for funding the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp program and initiatives. This would not be possible without their help and support.”

Gorjian talked about how the program continues to gain momentum.

“This is our second year of the Venture Studio Entrepreneurs Bootcamp Program. We’ve enrolled 80 participants for non-academic credit, and more than half of those have graduated from the program. It’s energizing to see these entrepreneurs begin with an idea and develop it throughout the Bootcamp’s semester-long weekly sessions,” Gorjian said. “The program takes much hard work and dedication outside of regular classes and daily life. It truly mimics real world expectations of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We’re incredibly proud to see our graduates receive prize money to help them continue developing their ideas, and hopefully bring their dreams to life.” 

In the spring of 2017, student teams will move on to the next phase and enroll in various entrepreneurial competitions on the local and national levels. The first internal competition is the UK Venture Challenge that will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18. Registration will be open to all UK students beginning Jan. 17. Interested persons should visit to learn more and stay tuned for upcoming events.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue