Three University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh students won the WiSys Carl E. Gulbrandsen Innovator of the Year award, an honor recognizing them for exemplary contributions to Wisconsin innovation.
UW-Oshkosh seniors Jessica Tarter and Parker Schmidt and 2019 graduate Macall Hill teamed up on a project in 2019 to create a product to improve the survival of honey bee colonies in cold weather. The students worked with the UW-Oshkosh Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and WiSys, a nonprofit dedicated to helping inventors protect their intellectual property.
The students reviewed a variety of WiSys technologies and select one as the basis of a startup company. After market research on product, they selected a product called the Bee Shield, designed to prevent honey bees from dying during winter in Wisconsin and other places where it gets very cold during winter. The shield was invented by Edward Burkett, a UW-Superior biology professor and apiary manager, and his colleague Kenn Raihala.
Tarter, Schmidt and Hill formed their company, called Hive Central, and started up a pilot program and e-commerce website. About 50 beekeepers tested four shields, giving insight into what improvements needed to be made.