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Lutgert College of Business in the News

This text is excerpted from a Florida Venture Forum press release dated May 21, 2013

Florida Venture Forum 2013 Early Stage Conference – Record Number of Presenting Companies and Attendance

Media Contact: Pat Schneider (813) 335-8116 Kevin Burgoyne (305) 343-0617


The Florida Venture Forum hosted its Third Annual Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition and Sixth Annual Early Capital Conference at the Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 before a record number of attendees. The Conference began with the statewide collegiate business plan competition and included participation from University of Florida, Rollins College, University of Miami, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida State University, Florida Institute of Technology, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida.

“The caliber of innovation and ideas, and the poise and preparation of the presenters is great testament to Florida’s public and private universities,” said Kevin Burgoyne, Executive Director of the Florida Venture Forum.

The winner of the Statewide Business Plan Competition was Florida Gulf Coast University. The team, under the direction of Dr. Sandra Kauanui, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Entrepreneurship at Florida Gulf Coast University, won over the judges with a flawless presentation and a very compelling product and business plan. Robby Donnelly, COO of Aqua Ramp, gave the presentation. The AquaRamp is an innovative design for an aquatic lift system that provides a simpler, more reliable mode of moving people into and out of swimming pools, spas, and other aquatic recreation areas. The product is an alternative to other aquatic lifts on the market. Instead of imitating its competitors by lifting a person into the air and lowering them straight into the pool, the AquaRamp uses an inclined system to lower a person into the water from wheelchair height. The highlight feature of this product is that it conforms to the newly-revised standards for ADA. The AquaRamp team went on to present at the Early Stage Conference later in the afternoon, and received a gift certificate for pro bono legal services from the Helping Innovators Thrive (HIT) program of Edwards Wildman.

Edwards Wildman’s HIT is designed to help qualifying entrepreneurs and young companies avoid costly mistakes and chart their course to success by providing support and affordable access to strategic legal advice.

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