Votes needed for UT alumni competing in Rice Business Plan Competition

April 14, 2016 | Events, UToday, Alumni, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Samantha Watson

Two alumni from The University of Toledo are doing big things, and they need your help.

Tony Bova, who received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from UT, and Jeff Beegle, who received his bachelor of science in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from UT, are both PhD students at the University of Tennessee, where they founded a startup company called Grow Bioplastics that is now competing in the Rice Business Plan Competition.

grow bioplasticsThe competition, hosted by Rice University, is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. With more than $1.5 million in prizes at stake this year, the two UT graduates are hoping to get Grow Bioplastics off the ground.

Grow Bioplastics is based around a low-cost, renewable biopolymer developed by Bova and Beegle that naturally degrades in soil. The biopolymer allows farmers and gardeners to plant crops within their containers and use films that can be plowed into the ground after harvest, saving them time and money associated with plastic disposal while also reducing the amount of oil-based plastic waste in landfills.

The main part of the competition kicked off today with a practice round and elevator pitch competition, and will go until the semifinal, challenge and final rounds. Though the main prizes will be awarded based on judges made up of venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs, service providers and local business executives, there also is a People’s Choice Award taking place throughout the competition.

Currently, Grow Bioplastics is in sixth place for the People’s Choice Award, a $5,000 prize decided purely on votes. To vote for the team, go to, select Grow Bioplastics, and click submit before 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16.

For more information on Grow Bioplastics, visit or view their business pitch at

To learn more about the Rice Business Plan Competition, visit

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