KU design students win venture contest

February 23, 2008


Two students in the department of design at Kansas University earned the top prize in the first Mark L. Morris Jr. New Venture Development competition.

Jana Silverman, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in industrial design this fall, and Ann Fitzgerald, a senior in industrial design and a graduate student in interaction design, earned the prize by submitting to the School of Business their plan to create ergonomically designed in-shower seating for geriatric individuals.

The plan emerged from a field of 80 submissions, of which 19 were reviewed by a panel of venture capitalists, company executives and financiers.

To help start their businesses, the top 10 qualifiers received $200. The top four teams earned $2,000 each. Fitzgerald and Silverman received an additional $5,000 for the top prize, bringing their total prize money to $7,200 to help research market potential for their new business venture.

Runners-up were Brooks Andrew Morgan, Andrew Christopher Langford and Adam Hofmann.

Fitzgerald and Silverman said they want their shower chair to reduce the medical stigma of aging. They intend to continue seeking capital, and hope to start manufacturing early next year.


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