What began with a sports injury ultimately launched Lia Winter (HCB, ’19) into a career as an entrepreneur.
After tearing her hamstring while playing soccer and later witnessing her mother’s experience with repeated surgeries to repair a torn ACL, Winter began researching orthopedic medicine. This led her to design her first medical innovation device, EasyWhip. The two-part detachable needle is designed to increase the speed and accuracy of the whipstitching used in orthopedic reconstruction surgeries.
Winter graduated in May with a dual MS/MBA in business administration and biomedical engineering from the Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering.
She found coaching, mentorship and all-around support when forming her business, Winter Innovations, through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business. She won several of the center’s business pitch competitions as well as numerous awards outside of UT to support her journey:
- $1,500 from the fall 2017 Vol Court Pitch Competition
- $12,500 from the 2017 Boyd Venture Challenge
- $5,000 from the 2018 Boyd Venture Challenge
- $10,000 from the 2019 Boyd Venture Challenge
- More than $42,500 from University of Louisville Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge, University of Manitoba Stu Clarke Investment Challenge, UGA Next Top Entrepreneur and Louisiana Startup Prize
Most recently, she took home $10,000 from the Innov865 Startup Day 2019 competition here in Knoxville.
This past summer, Winter was accepted to the ZeroTo510, a medical innovation accelerator program, to help her navigate the FDA clearance process. Her next steps include securing investors and finalizing patents and FDA approval.
“I am so grateful to everyone at UT who helped by introducing me to their connections, providing feedback on my product and business plan and supporting our team with words of encouragement as we move forward,” Winter says.