Two University of Utah bioengineering students won first place and the $40,000 grand prize at the annual Utah Entrepreneur Challenge for their design of a new endotracheal tube that makes it easier for medical professionals to perform endotracheal intubation, a risky procedure necessary for reopening airways for patients unable to breathe on their own. The winners were announced Saturday, April 9.

Bioengineering graduate students Benjamin Fogg and Samer Merchant were part of the winning team, Through the Cords, LLC.

“Winning the $40,000 dollars was a shock,” said Mackenzie Hales, a U graduate student in business and member of the team. “The money will help us refine our product and get through FDA approval. However, more than winning the money, the best part of the competition was the positive feedback we received from judges and other participants. It was an emotional boost because it validated our efforts.”

The statewide, business-plan competition is the culminating event of a number of student entrepreneur competitions hosted by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah and sponsored by Zions Bank.

“Zions Bank is thrilled to once again support the top student entrepreneurship contest in the state,” said Mike Winder, director of the entrepreneurship programs for Zions Bank. “The innovation and companies that grow out of this each year make a real difference.”

Read the full press release at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute site.