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Millcreek Journal

Skyline students win big in the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge

Apr 30, 2022 11:40AM ● By Lizzie Walie

By Lizzie Walje | [email protected]

Pure Solutions, a team from Skyline High School, won a $10,000 grand prize at the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, following their presentation of a product that enables consumers to easily analyze the safety of water samples.

 The competition is hosted annually by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. The event is sponsored by Zions Bank, who provided the $10,000 prize presented to the students following their win.

David Sun, a member of the Pure Solutions team, would have been content with merely bringing attention to an important issue. “Winning this competition means much more than just the money. I think the most valuable prize is the countless people that are so talented that we got to interact with. We wanted to bring awareness to an issue that is important to us, and we did just that.”

Pure Solutions intends to use the win as an impetus for getting their product patented and prepared for consumers. “We’re planning on filing a patent in [May 2022] so that we can assume ownership over the entire product. From there, we are planning on licensing that patent to utility companies or using it and starting our own business,” Pure Solutions team member Vivek Anandh said.

Pure Solutions beat out 20 other teams who made it to the final event in the business-idea competition held by the Lassonde Institute. The institute welcomes submissions from students all across Utah ages 14-18. The students compete for recognition in addition to prize money and scholarships. Every team that participated was given the same challenge. They must first identify a consumer problem or demand and consequently develop a creative solution.

“Each year I am continually blown away by the sheer passion and effort displayed by these high school students,” said Sadie Bowen, who is the student associate for the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. “We hope that by bringing more attention to this competition that we can continue to foster interest amongst Utah high schoolers.”

The High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is a youth version of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a statewide student business model competition. It operates in a similar manner to the high school version; however, it focuses on university-age students and awards $30,000 to the winners. The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is one of the largest collegiate competitions in the nation. 

Pure Solutions placed first beating out second-place team Noisy NICU Cap and third-place team Creative Book Folding. Noisy NICU Cap patented a sound-attenuating device that aims to reduce sound exposure for vulnerable babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Creative Book Folding uses 100% recyclable materials to fashion customized and unique gifts and decorations.

Sun was inspired by seeing the multitude of innovative products presented by his peers. “Having seen the hard work put in by the other teams, we feel that much more grateful to have been awarded first place. There were so many good ideas floated and so many worthy competitors. It made the win that much more special,” Sun said.

The top 20 teams that Pure Solutions competed against came from all across the state. The products presented provided solutions for industries across the board including event planning, physical therapy, financial literacy, repurposing ocean waste, and a series of innovative mobile applications.

“Part of why we developed the high school-age competition is because we wanted to give students at that level an opportunity to showcase their talent, to prove that people of all ages have the capability to transform lives and create products for the greater good,” Bowen said. “And given the outcomes we’ve witnessed in the past several years, this is more than a competition. Many of these finalists go on to actually sell, patent, or develop these products. They’re young people dramatically improving the world and that never ceases to be inspiring.”

Ultimately, it was Pure Solution’s water sample analyzer that triumphed. Per the team’s own description, “Pure Solutions is an innovative product that enables consumers to easily and comprehensively analyze water samples from the comfort of their homes.”

They go on to explain, “Unlike current water testers on the market, Pure Solutions’ reusability, intuitive design, and Bluetooth capabilities, will enhance water safety. The product will inform millions of people about the quality of their water and provide low-income communities an affordable and effective way to improve their health and standards of living.”

The team stressed the importance of bringing this type of technology to communities that need it the most, particularly those impoverished communities where clean water is difficult to come by. They touched on the importance of clean drinking water as a basic human right that should be afforded to everyone.

Inspired by the examples of communities across the world who lack access to clean water, Pure Solutions wanted to streamline an easy and affordable solution that could be used worldwide or even right here in the U.S. They drew attention to Flint, Michigan where a notorious water crisis waged for five years from 2014 to 2019. “It shouldn’t be happening anywhere,” the team explained, “but the fact that it happened here and lasted for years? Unacceptable. That got us thinking, and we built from there.”

As this year’s competition concludes, Bowen encourages students who are interested and eligible to get involved next year. “To all the teams who participated this year, we wish you the very best in your future endeavors,” Bowen said. “We look forward to seeing a whole new set of ideas and products at next year’s competition.”