Winners Named in 2019 Rhode Island Business Competition

Six Teams Share Prizes Valued at $225,000

PROVIDENCE – (May 7, 2019) – A mechanical engineer who has developed a space-efficient dispenser of non-dairy milks for use in cafeterias and other commercial food service operations today was named the top winner in the 2019 Rhode Island Business Competition, which awarded prizes valued at $225,000 to six competitors.

Kevin Eve, of Providence, whose business, Uproot, was declared the top winner, took home $83,975 in winnings – $15,000 in cash and $43,975 in professional and consulting services as the Entrepreneur Track winner, plus a $25,000 bonus cash award.

Winners were announced at a public ceremony at the New England Medical Innovation Center (NEMIC) in Providence.

(Photo shows, from left, Anthony Mangiarelli, Competition Co-chair; Kevin Eve and Jacob Conway, both of Uproot; and Peggy Farrell, Competition Co-chair)

Eve will automatically be eligible to enter the $50,000 Cox Business Get Started Rhode Island pitch contest, to be held Oct. 2 in Providence, as a semi-finalist.

Eve said Uproot, which serves four varieties of plant-based milk and creates 56% less packaging waste than milk served from cartons, offers more variety in less space than current competitors. The service is already selling to universities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Uproot currently produces its milks at Hope & Main, a shared-use commercial kitchen in Warren, RI, and plans to team with a contract manufacturer in the region later this year to scale up production to support significant expansion efforts.

Winning the Student Track was H2Ok Innovations, led by David Lu, a Brown University undergraduate studying chemistry and computer. H2OK Innovations, which uses artificial intelligence data analytics to map sources of contamination in underground drinking water pipes that are targeted for replacement, received $15,000 in cash plus $43,975 in professional and consulting services.

Anthony Mangiarelli, Competition co-chair and partner with the KLR accounting firm in Providence, said, “We congratulate this year's winners and finalists, who are all developing promising businesses. We, along with the local organizations that will provide them with business and professional services, look forward to working with them.”

Co-chair Peggy Farrell, partner with the Hinckley Allen law firm in Providence, added, "The Competition can only award prizes because of the commitment of our many sponsors, and we thank them for their unflagging support. By supporting the Competition, they are investing in startups that will help shape Rhode Island's future."

Entrepreneur Track finalists, each of whom received $5,000 in cash and services valued at $16,850, were:

  • Biotica Bio, led by John Round of Providence, which has developed an oral microbial therapeutic that treats inflammatory bowel disease and other human endocannabinoid deficiencies without expensive clinical trials.
  • CBC Wind Energy, which is developing efficient, attractively priced wind turbines to be mounted on homes and other structures to meet the growing demand for alternative power supplies. Robert Baxter, Warwick, is president and head of technology for the company.

Each Student Track finalist received $5,000 in cash and services valued at $14,350. They were:

  • eBuoy is developing a product to detect harmful bacteria in freshwater/marine environments to ensure community safety. Leading the team is Kayla Colson, who this month will receive a Master of Science degree in innovation, management, and entrepreneurship from Brown University. eBuoy applied to the Competition under the name of Marine Monitoring.
  • goTeff has developed a low sugar, slow-absorbing, high-nutrition, ready-to-eat breakfast meal made of Teff, a grain from Ethiopia, which will also provide market access for Teff farmers. It is led by Saron Mechale, who will graduate from Brown University this month with a Bachelor of Science degree in social analysis and research.

A total of 68 applications were received this year. To be eligible to win prizes, applicants agreed to establish or continue business operations in Rhode Island.

More than 50 previous Rhode Island Business Competition participants are currently operating, having created more than 500 jobs, and buying services and supplies from Rhode Island companies.

Sponsors of the 2019 Competition

This Rhode Island Business Competition, which has provided capital and services to very early stage businesses in Rhode Island for nearly two decades, was supported by 55 sponsors and partners this year.

Lead sponsors of the 2019 Competition are Bryant University, Cox Business, Envision Technology Advisors, Everhope Foundation, Hinckley Allen, Integrated Media Group, KLR, Locke Lord, and Sprout Coworking.

Also sponsoring the 2019 Competition are Barlow, Josephs & Holmes, Ltd., Brown University Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, Center for Women and Enterprise, FM Global, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Hatch Entrepreneurial Center, Luminous, RevUp Capital, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, TD Bank, Tech Collective, and the University of Rhode Island College of Business Administration.

Additional sponsors include Bank of America, Bank Rhode Island, BankNewport, The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, Bristol County Savings Bank, Business Development Company, Cherrystone Angel Group, Citizens Bank, CompNet Insurance Solutions, CVS Health, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Dimeo Construction Company, EpiVax, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at CCRI, Hayes & Sherry Real Estate Services, The Hilb Group of New England, The Idea Turbine, InsureMyTrip, Johnson & Wales University, The Moore Company, Navigant Credit Union, the New England Medical Innovation Center, Newport Biodiesel, Pawtucket Credit Union, Richard Carriere, Slater Technology Fund, StormTree, Teknor Apex, Virgin Pulse, and The Washington Trust Company.

Growth partners include MassChallenge and Venture Mentoring Service of Rhode Island.

About the Rhode Island Business Competition

Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Competition has been recognized as one of the top 40 business plan competitions in the country. To date, it has awarded $2.9 million in prizes to developing companies across many industries.

The Competition is free and open to everyone age 18 or over whether or not they already have started a business. Complete information, including rules, application procedures, guidelines, and business plan resources, is available at