2017 Winners of the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge

Published on Thursday, August 24, 2017


The Eighth Annual VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Event held on August 17-26, 2017, provided a unique opportunity for student teams and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate and initiate their personal global networks through learning, socialization, and friendly competition in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  During this celebration of entrepreneurship, student teams from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Thailand, and the USA competed in the Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge for a $25,000 grand prize and the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge Trophy.

The grand prize of $25,000 was awarded to team Cohex of Adolfo Ibáñez University, Santiago, Chile, which included Maurizio Canessa, Luckas Fonck, and Josefa Villanueva.  Their prize package included the $10,000 Plastics OneAdvanced Manufacturing Award for the most outstanding tangible product. In addition to that, they were awarded another $15,000; and as a permanent tribute to their success, their name and university will be etched into the base of the Global Challenge Trophy.  Their winning concept was Cohex. Cohex is a system designed to keep the perfect humidity level during fruit exportation, helping to reduce loss and improve fruit quality. Cohex was also the 2017 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge Virtual Preliminary winner, granting their team a spot in the Global Challenge August finals.

The $10,000 VT KnowledgeWorks Information Technology Award for the most outstanding intangible product went to Curos Labs of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Tristan Burgoyne and Alexander Toews represented their university. Curos Labs is on a mission to empower people with chronic pain. Their first product, CheckPoint, is a mobile wellness application offering a hassle-free alternative to traditional pain journals. In addition to streamlining the pain tracking process, CheckPoint leverages each user’s personal history of activities and behaviors to identify actionable changes for an improved quality of life.

The People’s Choice award of $5,000, sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, was selected by vote of the event attendees at the Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge.  Nexenic of ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland, was the recipient of the People’s Choice. Nexenic strives to develop advanced and innovative solutions for daily life. Nexenic, represented by Astrid Besmer, Reto Muhl, and Claudio Ruiz Da Silva, is currently developing a smart lunchbox that will revolutionize the way people enjoy their meals.

The competition finals at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on August 24, 2017, were part of a celebration of student entrepreneurship and their important contributions to the global economy. The day concluded with an awards banquet and flag presentation ceremony at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center where all teams were recognized for their important contributions to the global economy.

During the rest of their visit to the USA, global teams enjoyed a two-day trip to Washington, D.C., including sightseeing at museums and monuments, and a United States Capitol tour. Teams attended a breakfast panel about “Globalizing Your Business” at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, as they were welcomed by embassy representatives from their home region.  Attendees also enjoyed a visit and lunch at 1776, a global incubator, seed fund, and supportive innovation network, as they heard from 1776 members about “Insights on Starting Up.”  While in Blacksburg, teams were housed by local families, spent interactive time with successful technology companies, and enjoyed fellowship with Virginia Tech students. Some of the activities included tours of the Virginia Tech campus, Lane Stadium, and the Moss Arts Center; souvenir shopping experiences in Roanoke and Blacksburg; and festive meals throughout the entire event. The event concluded with a closing reception at The Hotel Roanoke on August 25, 2017, to celebrate all participants of the Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge.

To learn more about the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge, visit our website at  To view a list of all participating University Partners from around the world, go to We are pleased to announce that the Global Partnership Event for 2018 will be an official university program, led by the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech.

These generous sponsors make this very special week of education, competition, relaxation, and relationship-building possible: Allegheny Logistics GroupApex Systems Center for Innovation and EntrepreneurshipAutomation Creations, Inc.BAE SystemsBB&TThe Branch Group, Inc.Brown, Edwards & Company, LLPCarilion ClinicCelaneseCity of RoanokeClick & PledgeCommonwealth GroupEDCG.J. Hopkins, Inc.Meridium from GE DigitalNational BankPlastics One Inc.RackspaceRoanoke-Blacksburg Technology CouncilShentelSMBWSunTrust Bank , TechLabThird SecurityTown of BlacksburgUnion Bank & TrustVirginia Tech Corporate Research CenterVirginia Tech’s Outreach and International AffairsVPT, Inc., and Wordsprint.

For a complete list of other contributors of the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Event, please visit our website at

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships.  It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters is in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.