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Innovators Win with Solutions to Tool Storage, Earbuds, and Tire Traction

Apr 24, 2024 | Education, News, Science

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The UAF College of Business and Security Management awarded more than $45,000 in cash prizes to inventors at the 2024 Arctic Innovation Competition.

Redefining Solutions

The competition, now in its 15th year, invites innovators to propose new, feasible, and potentially profitable ideas for solving real-life problems, open to entrants from all over the world. An awards ceremony was held over the weekend in Fairbanks.

The top prize of $15,000 in the main division, for competitors ages 18 and up, was awarded to Finn Oestgaard a rugged tote box named Tute. A patent application is in progress and initial manufacturing is underway in Montana. Oestgaard’s startup company, FINN – Redefining Rigid Gear Storage, is selling directly to customers before extending into wholesale distribution. In addition to the 1st place prize, Oestgaard also won Sustainability and Arctic Kicker prizes worth $2,000 each.

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Alaska Business June 2024 Cover

June 2024

In the junior division, for ages 13 to 17, the $1,000 1st-place prize was awarded to Ear Buddies submitted by Danika Dawley. The inventor proposed a light fabric windscreen to be worn with audio earbuds. The product would attach directly to the ears, requiring no other fasteners.

In the cub division, for ages 12 and under, the 1st-place prize and $500 went to Grail Conley and Revy Conley for Get a Grip!, wire-mesh sheaths for vehicle tires to improve traction. The concept combines thin barbed wire for immediate traction with siping, or slices in the tire surface that increase contact surface.

Fan-favorite honors in each division, worth $100 each, went to Danielle Wrenn’s DART, which stands for Detection of Antimicrobial Resistance Toolbox, and Elijah Steer’s AI Consulting Services, with the 11th-grader proposing technology solutions that many businesses are only beginning to understand. Get a Grip! was doubly recognized as a fan favorite, as well.

An extra $2,000 kicker prize for college students went to the team behind Alaska Tank Sensor, the 3rd-place selection in the main division. Daniel Reichardt, Amber Reichardt, and Thimira Asurapmudalige devised a method of monitoring fluid levels in water or heating oil tanks using a submersible pressure transducer that relays data by WiFi.

Additional cash prizes were awarded to the inventors of special pliers for handling fiber optic cables, drone aircraft for rural transportation, a tactile book to teach drawing to visually impaired readers, and parking meters that double as chargers for electric vehicles.

The competition, sponsored by Usibelli Coal Mine, gives the community and competitors an opportunity to build lifelong friendships, business connections, and the confidence to turn their big ideas into reality.

Alaska Business June 2024 cover
In This Issue
Delivering Anchorage's Promise
June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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