Dialysis aid takes top prize at local entrepreneurial competition

Published 8:26 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023

Kenna Pruitt, Kade Frisby, Emily Kerivan and Jordan Kocsis, founders of a group they named Navigator Medical LLC, won the top prize at the 2nd Annual Oxford CoBuilders Business Pitch Competition held Wednesday in Oxford.

The competition, held June 28 at the UM Innovation Hub at Insight Park, featured seven entrepreneurial teams pitching to a judging panel of local business owners.

“The innovative ideas presented showcase the kind of talent being produced both locally and out of the University of Mississippi,” said Allen Kurr, vice president of the Economic Development Foundation (EDF). “We look forward to celebrating these entrepreneurs in their continued success and to supporting them in their ventures.”

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The local competition, sponsored by the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and the University of Mississippi, acted as a qualifying event for this fall’s statewide CoBuilders business accelerator led by Innovate Mississippi. Companies selected for the statewide program will be identified through their participation in one of seven regional pitch competitions that have been held in Clarksdale, Starkville, Jackson, Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, Biloxi and now Oxford.

Oxford’s first place team won a $7,500 cash prize. The group’s Navigator Medical LLC is a medical device company founded as a student-based business in the spring of 2023. The team of biomedical engineers ­- assisted by the University of Mississippi’s newly formed Center for Diagnostics, Design, Devices and Biomechanics ­- developed a needle placement guide they called The Compass in an effort to bring relief to dialysis patients.

Second place was awarded to Lamar Gordon, Stan Flint, George Cumbest and Derek Norsworthy of Journez by NarraTrip. Journez is an AI-enhanced, voice-guided travel application designed to connect users to cultural assets in the hospitality tourism industry.

Third place was awarded to Matt and September Gray at Hat Boy Software, Inc. for their plan to bring innovative AI-powered automated code generation to the tech industry.

All seven companies participating in the competition received pre-pitch business coaching and access to development resources through partners at the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UM Office of Technology Commercialization and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

“We are so appreciative to all our competitors and mentors, as this event turned out to be a hit,” Kurr added. “It was a wonderful celebration of our innovative community spirit and the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Oxford and Lafayette County.”

The mission of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation (EDF) is to “be a leader in creating opportunities for responsible economic investment, thereby raising the per capita income for all citizens of Lafayette County.”

In support of this, the EDF commits to being responsive to local business and industry, being a responsible vehicle to preserve a positive business environment in the area, facilitating technology transfer at the University of Mississippi into the community and by supporting other positive community efforts which improve the quality of life and yield economic benefits.

For more information on CoBuilders and Economic Development, contact Kurr at 662-234-4651 or allen@oxfordms.com, or visit www.cobuilders.ms.