U of U Business Plan Team Accepted into World’s Largest and Richest Business Plan Competition

A team from the Lassonde New Venture Development Center at the University of Utah was chosen from 339 business plan teams from around the world to compete in this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition. Charity Williams, graduating in May with juris doctorate; Sean Mills, graduating with an MBA and Justin Baker, a second-year bioengineering Ph.D. candidate, make up the three-student team competing with a business plan they developed for ElutInc, a start-up orthopedic device company.

The orthopedic device company will improve orthopedic surgeries and bone healing by creating implantable devices that can release (or elute) antibiotics and various drugs directly into a surgical site. The technology was developed by David Grainger, Ph.D., from the U of U’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. The technology will reduce surgical site infections and promote bone healing.

The team will go to Houston for the April 16-18 competition. The Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC), hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) and the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, will again be the largest and richest graduate-level competition in the world with more than $800,000 in prizes and 36 teams from around the globe. This is the ninth year for the competition. In that time it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001.

The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to be able to generate funding and successfully commercialize their product. Judges will evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges are asked to rank the presentations based upon the company in which they would most likely invest.

Past competitors have included many of the country’s most prestigious universities including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Wharton, Northwestern, Chicago, USC, Rice, Texas, and Texas A&M. Teams in the areas of life sciences – including medical devices, drug development and diagnostics, information technology and Web 2.0, energy and clean technology, sustainability and advanced materials or robotics — compete for prizes in the elevator pitch and business plan presentation. The competition is for new, independent ventures developed by graduate-level students, with a company in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages.

FORTUNE Small Business and CNNMoney.com will again cover the competition. Teams will be profiled on CNNMoney.com prior to the competition and winning teams will be featured in the June issue of FORTUNE Small Business.

Led by director Troy D’Ambrosio, the Lassonde New Venture Development Center brings together students from the business, engineering and science schools at the University of Utah and provides them a unique educational experience by working on the commercialization of university-developed technologies. After selecting high value technologies, the student associates spend a year performing core market research, developing business strategies, preparing business plans and making commercialization recommendations to the inventor and the university. This year, there are 20 students participating in the program.

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