The winners for the 2021 Heartland Challenge have been crowned.
This year’s Heartland Challenge began Thursday, April 15 with 12 semi-finalist graduate student startups. These startups were whittled down to the finalists and the final round was held Friday, April 16 at 8 am.
Of the 12 semi-finalists, four represented the University of Arkansas, while two startups were from Oklahoma State University and two were from California universities. There were also startup teams from universities in Massachusetts, New York state, Missouri and Singapore.
Ultimately, a California-based startup walked away with first place in the Heartland Challenge.
Nur Labs, a startup from the University of California, Los Angeles, took the top prize. Nu Labs has developed a non-invasive liquid biopsy platform designed for early cancer screening. With this first place win, Nur Labs is taking home $50,000 out of a total $96,000 cash prize pool.
University of Arkansas startup Backup won second place in the competition. The startup, which offers a two-sided marketplace connecting Airbnb hosts with a workforce of cleaners, received $25,000.
The third place winner was Urogix, a startup team from Washington University in St. Louis, which earned $10,000. This team has developed a minimally invasive surgical device designed for age-related prostate enlargement.
BioSeal XE, from Oklahoma State University, won third place an $5,000. The company has developed a wound bioadhesive that stops bleeding and accelerates would healing for cuts, tears and punctures.
There was also an elevator pitch competition, which Tufts University startup Cerobex won, earning $3,000. The company has developed a lipid-nanoparticle drug delivery system that is designed to transport therapeutic molecules across the blood-brain barrier and into brain tissue. Backup won second place, earning an additional $2,000.