The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Universities co-organized an annual University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Showcase to highlight the role of federally-funded university research in fueling entrepreneurship, innovation and economic opportunity nationwide. Washington State University students were featured in this showcase through their work forming Eco Carbon Technology, Inc., (ECT) startup. Through the Showcase, the ECT team and WSU were recognized nationally for their exemplary work at the intersection of science, technology, and business.
The ECT startup is a unique, multidisciplinary team of students working together to solve the problem of bee death and colony collapse. This startup was created after the development of the Beetoxx technology in 2017. The invention team for Beetoxx consists of two Washington State University researchers, Brandon Hopkins, assistant professor in entomology, and Waled Suliman, postdoctoral research associate for biological systems engineering. They developed a food supplement that helps bee colonies survive the toxic effects of pesticides by using a carbon micro-particle beekeepers can add to meals that removes pesticide residue from the bees’ digestive system.
The entire ECT effort is comprised of two teams working in parallel. The research team worked on generating more data about the effectiveness of the Beetoxx technology under different conditions. Within the research team, they have one graduate student, Saffet Sansar, Master of Science candidate in Entomology, who works closely with the inventors. The Commercialization team worked on planning and strategizing towards marketing the technology. This team consists of Rachelle Muzones, a Master of Science in bioengineering, Jason Williams, doctoral degree candidate in entrepreneurship and business management, and Tru Petrilli, Bachelor of Arts in entrepreneurship; all of whom had a background in business and entrepreneurship enabling both the research and commercialization team to co-found the startup Eco Carbon Technology, Inc.
ECT participated in the WSU I-Corps program, an 8-week program designed to engage faculty, students, staff, and community entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into successful business products. Following the completion of the I-Corps program, ECT received multiple awards during the 2018 University of Washington (UW) Business Plan Competition, placing third place in the Wells Fargo Clean Tech and Environmental Price for Beetoxx. Beetoxx also placed second place in the UW Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. At the WSU Business Plan Competition, Beetoxx placed third and was named Best Social Impact Business during the competition. At the Bee Nutrition Challenged hosted by the National Honey Bee Health Coalition, Beetoxx won second place ($10,000) in 2018. Additionally, ECT received funding through the WSU Commercialization Gap Fund in 2018 and the Amazon Catalyst program. ECT is currently in discussions with the WSU Office of Commercialization for rights to the Beetoxx technology.
Sponsorship for ECT to attend the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase was provided by the Office of External Affairs and Government Relations and the Office of Research.