Daugherty Endowment Challenge Winners Announced at Lulu eGames

The Daugherty Endowment continues to bridge the gap between research and commercialization at NC State. Five NC State startup companies won cash prizes after competing in the Daugherty Endowment Challenge, a new track offered during the 2016 Lulu eGames. Sponsored by online publishing company Lulu.com, the Lulu eGames is NC State’s annual startup competition and entrepreneurship and innovation showcase. “This is our ninth year planning the Lulu eGames and our participation grows with each year. As a campus-wide program supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, partnerships with units like the Office of Technology Transfer through the Daugherty Endowment Challenge allows us to expand our opportunities to showcase and provide funding for startups coming out of NC State,” said Megan Greer, Director of Communications and Outreach for the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Over 250 people were in attendance at the Talley Student Union to see the teams take home over $60,000 in cash prizes. The event began with an Entrepreneurship Expo that showcased startup companies and innovations developed by NC State faculty and students.


Dr. Joseph Tracy, Custom Nano


Dr. Helen Gu, InsightFinder

Teams competed across five categories: New Venture Challenge, Design and Prototype Challenge, B Corp Champions Challenge, Arts Feasibility Study Challenge, and the Daugherty Endowment Challenge. Seventeen companies submitted executive summaries in the Daugherty Endowment Track, with five finalists chosen to pitch to the selection committee.

Third Floor Materials – designed and fabricated a mid-wave infrared detector that does not require cryogenic cooling. A huge savings in terms of cost and weight, making infrared cameras more affordable and available for use in a wide variety of applications. This startup resulted from a 2016 Chancellor’s Innovation Fund project.

RiboWiz Scientific – utilizes proprietary software RiboScan™: a web-based software developed at NC State that modulates novel ribosome dynamics during protein synthesis to address protein production needs in various life science industries.

Custom Nano – commercializing gold nanorods, a promising new material that can be used in cancer research, cancer therapeutics, imaging, anti-counterfeiting, and other applications.

InsightFinder Inc. – provides smart monitoring and predictive analytics services based on cutting-edge machine learning technologies. Their products help customers save money and enhance competitiveness by preventing service downtime and resource over-provisioning.

Smart Material Solutions, LLC – focused on nanocoining, precision engineering, and smart materials. They recently won a NSF STTR Phase 1 commercialization grant to prove that nanocoining can be used to create structured surfaces with desirable properties.

The winners of the Daugherty Endowment Track were:

1st: Smart Material Solutions – $10,000 cash prize

2nd: RiboWiz – $7,500 cash prize

2nd: Third Floor Materials – $7,500 cash prize

3rd: Custom Nano – $5,000 cash prize

3rd: Insight Finder, Inc. – $5,000 cash prize

“It’s great to see the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation on display at the Lulu eGames. We’re excited to award the Daugherty Endowment funds to such a deserving group of NC State startups,” said Amy Lubas, Director, Strategic Projects, Office of Partnerships and Economic Development at NC State.


Daugherty Endowment Challenge winners on stage at the Lulu eGames.

Read more about additional 2016 Lule eGames winners.

More photos from the 2016 Lulu eGames

Winners of the Fan Favorite Video Award