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UT alumna and entrepreneur Lia Winter participated in last week’s 2019 Collegiate Inventors Competition sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

As a finalist, Winter received an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to pitch her company, Winter Innovations, and her invention—EasyWhip, a patent-pending surgical needle designed to increase the speed and accuracy of the whipstitching in orthopedic reconstruction surgeries—to Hall of Fame inductees and officials from the US Patent and Trademark Office at the federal office in Alexandria, Virginia.

Image of Lia Winter

Although she didn’t win the competition, Winter said participating in the event was “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“Visiting the US Patent and Trademark Office was amazing, and I got to meet some incredible inventors. I presented EasyWhip to a panel of judges whose inventions include the microprocessor, the carbon dioxide laser, the electret microphone, and the Post-it Note,” she said. “During the expo, I had the opportunity to showcase EasyWhip and demonstrate prototypes to hundreds of patent examiners, USPTO staff, and the public.

“I was proud to represent the Volunteers and sing the praises of the initiatives that my university is taking to support student entrepreneurs.”

Winter is a Pittsburgh native who graduated in May with a dual MS–MBA in biomedical engineering and business administration earned in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering and Haslam College of Business.

Winter found coaching, mentorship, and all-around support through the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business. She won several of the center’s business pitch competitions, earning consulting and design services as well as legal advice.

The competitions also brought in much-needed capital: $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, and $10,000 from the 2019 Boyd Venture Challenge.

This summer, Winter participated in ZeroTo510, a medical technology accelerator program in Memphis, to help her navigate the FDA clearance process. In September, Winter won the Knoxville Innov865 Startup Day Pitch Competition Judge’s Choice and Crowd Favorite awards, taking home $10,000 in cash prizes.

Winter tells onlookers about her invention


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Carrie McCamey, Anderson Center (865-974-9964,

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