CHAPEL HILL, NC–Sqord, a UNC Chapel Hill startup that uses an online social game environment to encourage kids to be more active, was named one of two national winners in a competition to recognize innovative technologies used to combat childhood obesity.
The company, one of the participants in the Carolina Launch Pad pre-commercial incubator program, will receive $50,000 as a Grand Prize winner of the Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) Technology Innovation award. ASAP is an initiative of ChildObesity180, a cross-sector organization committed to reversing the trend of childhood obesity in one generation. The competition launched in February with a video message from First Lady Michelle Obama encouraging participation.
The award will allow Sqord to pilot its e-gaming platform that includes a wearable device that tracks kids’ physical activities and a social networking website where kids log their activities, earn points and rewards, and engage in friendly competition with their peers.
The Technology Innovation award will enable Sqord developers to pilot their system in a school district and develop a national distribution strategy, said Coleman Greene, Sqord CEO and an MBA graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan- Flagler Business School.
“In addition to helping us fund a pilot study, this award gives us the connections and the support system to scale up and distribute nationally,” said Greene. “It means visibility, credibility, and the opportunity to work with people who can help the company grow.”
The ASAP competition resulted in two Grand Prize winners in the Technology Innovation category, chosen from more than 100 applications. The other winner was another Chapel Hill-based innovation, The Walking Classroom, a podcast-based program that allows students to listen to entertaining and educational content while walking. The competition also recognized nine regional winners in the School Programs category, each of which will receive $25,000.
ChildObesity180 will recognize all the winners at a June 13 event in Washington, D.C. At that event, two of the School Program winners will be chosen as national winners and have their funding increased to $100,000 each.
In addition to the pilot project made possible by the ASAP award, Sqord plans to test its system this summer with YMCAs, Big Brother/Big Sister programs, and Boys and Girls Clubs in the Triangle area, said Greene.
About Carolina Launch Pad:
Started in 2009 by RENCI, the UNC Chapel Hill Office of Technology Development, and UNC Chapel Hill’s Keenan Flagler Business School, Carolina Launch Pad helps UNC Chapel Hill faculty, students and staff turn their ideas and prototypes into viable technology businesses. Launch Pad companies are given office space for one year at RENCI’s Chapel Hill headquarters and take part in mentoring, networking and education activities. For more information, see http://carolinalaunchpad.org/