AI Software Program Wins ‘New Venture Challenge’ Competition

TalkMeUp, an artificial intelligence (AI) smart coach training software that helps users improve communication skills, won the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business’ inaugural Duquesne New Venture Challenge (DNVC).

Duquesne University 2020 New Venture Challenge: Make It Happen

The DNVC, an entrepreneurship challenge open to the Pittsburgh community and beyond, awarded cash prizes totaling $25,000 to the top five finalists, with a $10,000 prize awarded to winner JJ Xu, creator of TalkMeUp.

“We had a very successful launch for the 2019-2020 DNVC, with nearly 70 high-quality entries from across the region,” Dr. Dean McFarlin, dean of the School of Business, said. “All of this is a testament to the depth and breadth of entrepreneurship in our part of the state as well as the hard work of our outstanding panel of judges and entrepreneurship faculty. Planning is already underway for the next DNVC, and we look forward to building on this year’s success.”

Each of the five finalist teams included a Duquesne student or alumnus.

The other winning teams and their products are:

  • 2nd Place ($7,000): Biomotivate—wearable AI wristbands that can help counselors track patient psychological behavior patterns to encourage those being treated for substance abuse to remain in treatment
  • 3rd Place ($4,000): LeanMed—innovative medical equipment designed to improve access to health care in low-resource regions
  • 4th Place ($2,000): Nollapelli—bedsheets designed to regulate moisture, temperature and friction to promote wellness during sleep
  • 5th Place ($2,000): SparkWear—a wristwatch device used during networking events to help event attendees find other guests with similar interests.

Additionally, the top three finalist teams will receive 10 hours of free legal education services from the School of Law and five hours of free consulting services from the University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Our judges spent long hours evaluating technologies ranging from AI to behavioral health to solar-powered medical oxygen generating systems,” Dr. Michele Migliuolo, director of the Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, said. “It was a tough assignment to evaluate the finalists, and we wish all of them the best. We look forward to working with some of the finalists in conjunction with our SBDC to help grow their businesses.”

The 2020-2021 DNVC will launch in August. Bob Mallet, former chairman of Mallet & Company, funds the DNVC.

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