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UMaine Business Challenge Winners Announced

Two brothers from Orrington, Maine, have won top prize in the first annual UMaine Business Challenge for UMaine student entrepreneurs.

UMaine marketing student Luke Thomas and Jake Thomas, an outdoor recreation and business student at the University of Maine at Farmington, won $5,000 cash and start-up business support to promote and market their company, AerialFly, which plans to use low-level unmanned aerial vehicles to assist public safety agencies in emergency situations.

Second place went to Shannon Byers, a UMaine student pursuing a master’s degree in business administration, for her business Best in Show Paws, a mobile nail clipping service for dogs. Byers received a $1,000 prize.

The competition, started by 2010 UMaine graduates Owen McCarthy, James Morin, Matt Ciampa and Sangam Lama, was designed to foment new businesses started by UMaine students. The founders, who put up their own money for the cash prizes, also say they want to help boost Maine’s Forbes Magazine ranking from 50th to 35th in the nation as a business-supportive state within a decade. They have since received support from the UMaine Class of 2010, the Maine Business School and the Foster Center for Student Innovation.

Other finalists in the business challenge were James Beaupre, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at UMaine, and Nate Wildes, a fourth-year political science student, for their Stillwater Poster Company, an outlet for UMaine artists to sell their work. Tory Stark, a second-year computer science student, and his wife Kimberly Stark had submitted a pitch for their alternative energy company, Bio-Remediation, which uses pelletized industrial waste to convert to bio-gas then energy. They will all receive free business counseling and advice from several independent Maine businesses supporting the program.

Contact: George Manlove, (207) 581-3756

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