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Innovators show wares, seek investors at UA showcase

About 380 people attend invention day event at UA

Graduate architecture student Matt Williams (left) learns more about Verdant Earth Technologies from Myles Lewis during Innovation Day on Tuesday at the University of Arizona.

Graduate architecture student Matt Williams (left) learns more about Verdant Earth Technologies from Myles Lewis during Innovation Day on Tuesday at the University of Arizona.

Controlled-environment high-yield agriculture, unmanned drone aircraft for nonmilitary use and a service to find the clothes your favorite TV or movie star is wearing were among the ideas showcased at Tuesday’s Innovation Day at UA.

About 380 people attended the event, which included an awards luncheon, innovation showcase and the opportunity for investors to check out projects developed by students in the University of Arizona McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.

Verdant Earth Technologies offers a farm-in-a-box system for growing vegetables and fruits, said Myles Lewis, who along with Josh Hottenstein is working to launch the company.

Crops can be grown anywhere, with no soil and little water, in containers that provide an optimal growing environment for a variety of foods, Lewis said.

The system can produce up to 10 times more food per square foot than conventional farming methods, Lewis said.

Jumpistics plans to provide unmanned aerial vehicle services to government agencies to use in emergency situations, said Ilan Fehler, general manager.

The remote controlled aircraft, which take off and land vertically and fly horizontally, could be used to ferry supplies to disaster areas or find lost hikers, he said.

“We want to use this for public service,” Fehler said.

If you can’t live without an outfit or shoes worn by your favorite TV or movie star, SeeSwag.com can help you find and purchase them, said Leo Grifka, CEO.

“You would be able to find those specific shoes,” Grifka said.

“We will search for anything on any show or movie,” said Moriah Raiola, chief operating manager.

SeeSwag.com was among the teams selected to present their business plans to potential investors following the innovation showcase.

John Buttery, a Scottsdale entrepreneur and investor, said he was impressed with the ideas and talent on display.

“There was a nice mix,” Buttery said. “I think there are some with good possibilities.”

At the Innovation Day luncheon in the UA Student Union Memorial Center, Victor J. Hruby UA Regents’ professor of chemistry, was named Innovator of the Year for his work studying how hormones and neurotransmitters control human behaviors, health and diseases like cancer.

Pouria Valley, a UA doctoral student in optics, was named student technology innovation award winner for his work with liquid crystal lenses that can offer optical zoom capabilities to cell phones and auto-focus cameras.

Hruby was awarded $10,000 for research and educational use, and Valley received $1,000, said Bruce A. Wright, associate vice president for economic development at UA.

Michael A. Cusanovich, a UA professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and director of the Arizona Research Laboratory, was given the lifetime achievement award for his contributions as a researcher, teacher and administrator.

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