Contact lens kit wins Start-Up Challenge; energy team again in finals

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Friday, Apr 12, 2013 - 1:00 am

A credit card-sized, emergency case for contact lenses won over judges at the Duke Start-Up Challenge. Refresh Innovations claimed the pitch competition's $50,000 grand prize, defeating two other teams at the challenge's grand finale.

Refrackt, a team that proposed a new solution to water safety issues posed by hydraulic fracturing, claimed the $10,000 Clean Energy Track prize sponsored by the Energy Initiative on its way to the final round. The third finalist was Camras Vision, a company that has created a new device intended to make glaucoma treatment more safely and effectively than current methods.

The event also featured a keynote by entrepreneur David Cummings (Trinity ’02), who announced his donation of $500,000 to create an endowment to encourage undergraduate entrepreneurship. The fund will provide $20,000 in grant funding to top undergraduate entrepreneurs each year.

Read more about the evening in the Duke Chronicle.

Refrackt makes their pitchRefrackt proposes treating wastewater from hydraulic fracturing with a mobile system that incorporates vacuum membrane distillation technology. Because the system can be moved, drillers can clean their water on-site and either recycle it to cut costs or release it back into public water systems.

Refrackt’s founders are Daniel Chow, Mark Panny and Victor Smith, all MEM candidates in the Nicholas School of the Environment, and Judith Winglee, a Pratt doctoral student. View the team's video pitch here, and read an interview with team members here.

Earlier in the week, the team also made the "Final Four" of the ACC Clean Energy Challenge, a $100,000 competition won this year by NC A&T's Bioadhesive Alliance.