Tech Launch Arizona gives five student start-up teams funding for impactful proposals

Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) awarded funding to five start-up teams to develop software or mobile apps that will have a real societal impact.

TLA collaborated with the University of Arizona Research, Innovation and Impact and Arizona FORGE to host the Impact Software/App Challenge. 

Doug Hockstad, the assistant vice president of TLA, said the competition was created to engage students in proposing software-based solutions to real-world problems.

“This idea-stage competition is part of a bigger effort to engage students in innovation and entrepreneurship,” Hockstad said in a statement. “We developed the challenge in close collaboration with Arizona FORGE, which is focused on instilling an entrepreneurial mindset into the student experience.”

$150,000 in project funding, to be divided among the selected proposals, was up for grabs in the competition. Proposals had to align with one of the following areas: human health; space exploration and optical solutions; national defense and security systems; resilience (water, environmental and energy solutions); and workforce development (creating jobs and making better workplaces). 

These 5 ideas were chosen to be funded through the challenge:

Predicting patient risk of developing eye problems: Proposed by student Artin Majdi and his team; develop a system to analyze optical coherence tomography imaging data and identify people who are at a high risk for progression to age-related macular degeneration. 

Smartphone screening for skin cancer: Proposed by students Justina Boaventura and Thomas Knapp; create software app and interface control for a smartphone spectrometer for diagnosing and screening for melanoma.

Developing healthcare apps without code: Proposed by students Devin van Allen and Jahnavi Shriram; developing a platform for creating native Android and iOS apps to allow patients to create apps and manage their own information, without the need for expertise in coding.

Fitness for all abilities: Proposed by Benjamin Connor; development of an app to allow individuals with disabilities to have access to fitness.

An app to green your thumb: Proposed by students Zaniar Ardalan, Ariyan Zarei, Soha Sabet and Maryam Eskandari; develop a phone app that can scan your plants and tell you exactly what they need to stay healthy.

All funding was given to the 5 proposals with the intention for the teams to pursue creating and developing their proposals.