Posted on April 18, 2024 by UTSA School of Data Science

Draper Competition graphic with computersFour teams were selected as winners of the 2024 UTSA Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition. On April 12, 2024, the six competition finalists pitched their business plans to a team of judges in front of an audience of approximately 125 people in the Weston Conference Center at San Pedro I, competing for prizes totaling $75,000. UTSA’s Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition was originally established in 2020, thanks to a $1 million donation from third-generation venture capitalist and founder of Draper University Timothy Draper, and his wife Melissa Parker Draper. The competition, held at the UTSA’s School of Data Science, is unique for its focus on data science and it's applications in entrepreneurship.

“This competition provides each and every participant a platform to explore their passion in data science research and to showcase their vision,” said Amanda Mukengeshayi Brown, SDS manager of strategic initiatives, during her opening remarks.

While this year’s competition was similar in structure to the 2023 event, a key difference was the inclusion of teams from universities outside the United States, including EpyDiagnosis from Tec de Monterrey, and Penta Labs from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).

The six competitors were judged on their ventures’ data science focus, the marketability of their ideas, and their presentations, which were limited to five minutes plus five minutes for questions. Four judges sat on the panel, consisting of Cat Dizon, Co-Founder, CEO of Active Capital; Dirk Elmendorf, former Co-Founder of RackSpace and President & CEO of the Witte Museum; Alejandra Zertuche, Interdisciplinary scientist and CEO of Enflux; and Ravi Kanniganti, the director of innovation at H-E-B.

Honorable Mention winner Aptitude Medical Modeling

The judges awarded last year’s third-place winner, Aptitude Medical Modeling a $5,000 honorable mention. The UTSA- and UT Health-based team pitched their new product, Samuel, a large language model tool that streamlines the process of writing patient notes and filling out insurance forms.

 epydiagnosis winning 3rd place

The third-place winner was EpyDiagnosis; the team’s AI-powered system for helping oncologists detect lung cancer sooner earned them $10,000.

Sonar sight winning 2nd place

Second place and $20,000 went to Sonar Sight, a company comprised of students from UTSA, UT Health, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi that pairs AI image recognition with sonar and infrared sensors to help people with visual impairments better navigate their environments. At the judges’ discretion, Sonar Sight also earned a $5,000 bonus prize.

penta labs wining 1st place

Finally, the $30,000 first-place prize went to Penta Labs, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help soccer teams make better financial decisions and improve in-game performance, while an audience vote secured the team an additional $5,000 as the Fan Favorite.

“We are super excited,” said Penta Labs CEO, Santiago Fernandez del Castillo Sodi. “It’s a validation of our efforts and we love that, and we’re really, really happy – we can’t stop smiling.”

Penta Labs’ newly won capital will prove invaluable as the company continues developing its system and expanding to more soccer teams. However, Fernandez notes, the benefits of participating in the Draper Competition are not limited to cash prizes.

“Before the prizes were even given, we were already discussing that we had already won because the learning was amazing,” he said. “We not only learned about our business, but we learned about ourselves. We believe we grew as a business but more importantly, we grew as people. So we felt we had won even before the competition started because it was really a priceless learning experience for us.”

To watch the 2024 UTSA Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition, visit

 -Christopher Reichert

— UTSA School of Data Science