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November 20, 2017

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UNLV student teams garner $55,000 in business competition

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Courtesy of Tahoe Creative

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison congratulates UNLV’s Rachel Farner, a member of the student team behind the Resilient Arthroplasty Device which won first place in a recent stateside business plan competition in Reno.

A trio of UNLV student teams took home big prizes in a statewide entrepreneur competition recently.

Student ideas on joint-pain relief, e-sports business and the hospitality industry netted a total of $55,000 in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan competition in Reno.

In the graduate-student division, UNLV took home first- and second-place prizes. The team behind the Resilient Arthroplasty Device won $25,000 for first place. Students developing Window Magic, which can enhance or completely alter the view out of any resort-suite windows, won $15,000 for second.

In the undergraduate division, the student developers of Game Trainer, an e-sports themed website idea, won $15,000 for second place.

Teams placing in the top three in each division move on to the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Competition against teams from Arkansas and Oklahoma for an $118,000 prize pool at the Mirage on May 31.

The Resilient Arthroplasty Device is a patented technology that aims to revolutionize how the orthopedic community treats and approaches knee pain, arthritis and total knee arthroplasty (replacement).

San Francisco-based Dr. R. Thomas Grotz, an orthopedic microsurgeon surgeon who invented the device, approached the UNLV student team to get behind his knee procedure technology.

“Dr. Grotz observed numerous complications that arise as a result of the outdated and barbaric technology that is currently used,” said Rachel Farner, an MBA student in the Lee Business School at UNLV who was part of the team. “RAD not only provides a better alternative to total knee arthroplasty (replacement), it provides a solution for those currently suffering from knee pain and arthritis who may not be candidates for a total knee arthroplasty (replacement).”

With the initial win under their belt, Farner said she and the team look forward to netting additional seed money and making the technology more available.

“The win is certainly rewarding in terms of validation for all of our hard work, but it is just the first step,” she said. “Competitions allow us to receive feedback and create connections with others in the industry who will help us to bring this technology to full commercialization. Looking at the big picture, we hope to make Las Vegas the arthritis treatment center of the world.”

Game Trainer, which began last year as a class project, aims to encourage experienced gamers to mentor those looking to advance their position in the e-sports industry.

“Brian Garrido and I worked on it for an entire semester, and one of the reasons that we came up with it is because I’m an avid e-sports gamer,” said Albert Antero, a sophomore computer science major at UNLV. “Brian is a business and finance major, so he worked on those parts.”

Antero and Garrido had to submit a 30-page product pitch to the panel of judges, in addition to giving a “Shark Tank”-style presentation to the panel. They use a website prototype for the business plan and pitches they make.

They plan to invest the $15,000 and launch the site after they graduate this year.

Leith Martin, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said UNLV’s success in such competitions is attributable to nontraditional students.

“A lot of students that we have at UNLV have prior work experience, as they work full- or part-time as they go to school full-time as well,” Martin said. “A lot of them are much more prepared to enter the workforce or start up a business because of that experience. They have a lot of life experience, and that lends itself to success in these types of competitions.”

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