FAU Student Wins Prestigious Florida Startup Competition


Hannah HerbstBOCA RATON, Fla. (Oct. 19, 2020) - A Florida Atlantic University student has taken first-place honors and a $10,000 cash prize in Florida Venture Forum’s Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition. Hannah Herbst, 20, and her company, Tiburon Technologies, LLC, developed an antimicrobial surgical wound dressing based upon the bioactive properties of shark skin. This will mark the first time since 2014 that a student from FAU has taken the top award. 

Herbst, an FAU College of Business senior majoring in management information systems, studied the properties of shark skin while working as an undergraduate researcher in FAU’s Biomechanics Laboratory under the guidance of Marianne Porter, Ph.D. When a family member suffered from a healthcare-associated infection, the experience inspired Herbst to work on this invention – an antibacterial, reusable bandage that prevents the migration of multiple strains of deadly bacteria into the wounds of post-operative, hospital-based patients.

Herbst credits her participation in the FAU Wave, FAU I-Corps, and FAU Tech Runway programs, for key instruction and mentorship in entrepreneurship. 

“In addition to Marianne Porter, I would like to thank mentors Neil Katz, Steven Scesa, the late Marty Doyle, and Rhys Williams for believing in this concept and pushing me to move it forward into product development,” she said. “Winning this competition is an incredible honor, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent FAU in this statewide competition.”   

Herbst also gave thanks to the Florida Venture Forum for organizing the competition and to its sponsor Space Florida for the cash prize, which she will use toward filing additional patents and to move forward with an identified contract manufacturing firm. 

“Hannah’s success, both as a student researcher and as an entrepreneur, is a testament to the quality of the research enterprise and of the entrepreneurship ecosystem FAU has grown,” said Daniel Flynn, Ph.D., FAU’s vice president for research. “Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of FAU all have the opportunity to participate in a large variety and number of high-quality research and entrepreneurship-focused programs.”

Jan Bednar from FAU won the top prize in 2014 and subsequently went on to grow his business into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Shipmonk (previously “BedaBox”) now has warehouse operations in three states, recently raised $10 million in venture capital, and exceeded $140 million in sales last year.