A startup company that turns pig waste into liquid asphalt took first place and $25,000 Wednesday night in the Charlotte Venture Challenge finals at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The founders of BioAdhesive Alliance Inc., a spinout of N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, say they've found a way to make something useful out of the 6 billion gallons of swine manure produced in the United States each year.
The sold-out competition drew nearly 300 entrepreneurs, investors, students and members of the public.
Wednesday night marked the finale of a time-intensive competition run by UNC Charlotte that started in January with 95 applicants from across the Southeast.
Three rounds of business development and competitive pitching in front of judges whittled the field to 19 finalists who presented to a panel of judges that included investors and venture capitalists.
The judges made their decisions based on the pitch, the product and the company's potential for success.
Mahour Parast, co-founder of BioAdhesive Alliance, says the company already has farms lined up to test the product and interested investors from the U.S., China and France.
"They've got a good chance of success," said Michelle Menard, a judge.
Three of the eight finalists were Charlotte-based. "Noire Naturals" specializes in hair care products for African-American women. "WeRx," a online operation, helps consumers find the lowest price for prescription drugs. And SET (Sustainable Ethanol Technology) develops low-cost ethanol using plant-based waste.
The "People's Choice" award went to ProVazo, a company that designed a catheter to make blood sampling painless, convenient and more precise.
Menard said she was impressed by the diversity of companies, ages and industries represented. "If anybody says the U.S. isn't innovative anymore, they should be here."
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