2012 Rice Business Plan Competition Awards $1.55 Million in Prizes – Richest Ever

NuMat Technologies from Northwestern crowned World Champion and takes home $874,300 from world’s richest and largest business plan competition.

HOUSTON – April 16, 2012 – The 2012 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) crowned NuMat Technologies from Northwestern as the World Champion startup company Saturday night, awarding more than $1.55 million in cash and prizes at the awards banquet. This is a record year for prizes, with The GOOSE Society of Texas TM tripling their prize purse from $150,000 to $450,000 as Jack Gill and Bob Brockman handed out their Grand Prize check to the winning team. The world’s richest and largest business plan competition brought 42 teams from across the globe to pitch their new technology business plans to more than 250 judges who themselves are successful venture capital investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. More than 600 people attended the banquet that marked the conclusion of the three-day RBPC. The event, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, marked the twelfth installment of the RBPC.


Insperity, itself a Houston success story founded in 1986 that provides an array of human resources and business solutions to over 100,000 clients and customers, served as the title sponsor for the third year in a row. FORTUNE covered the competition again this year and will feature the winners, teams and competition in the May 7, 2012 issue of the magazine and on FORTUNE.com.


In addition to the Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, the overall winners took home the $125,000 OWL Investment Prize, led by Robert Winter and Susan Hardin, and supported by Fulbright & Jaworksi, PKF Texas, and BBVA Compass Bank.  This year, 25 judges and investors came together to support 2012 OWL Investment prize.

The participation of first year federal sponsor, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), demonstrated that clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship is an effort that both the public and private sectors can, and must, support. Representing the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative, Dr. Karina Edmond from DOE, spoke to the importance of business plan competitions in driving technical innovation and entrepreneurship forward, and handed out the inaugural $100,000 DOE Clean Energy Prize.


The teams competed in five categories: life sciences, information technology, energy, green tech, social ventures and other technologies, in the April 12-14 event. The teams presented 15-minute business plans and also competed in a rapid fire 60-second elevator pitch contest on the first night or the competition.


Eight Prizes of $100,000 or more:

$450,000 GOOSE Society of Texas Grand Prize – NuMat Technologies, Northwestern University

$125,000 OWL Investment Prize - NuMat Technologies, Northwestern University

$100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize – Lemm Technologies, Purdue University

$100,000 Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Clean Tech Innovation Prize – NuMat Technologies, Northwestern

$100,000 Waste Management “Think Green”® Investment Prize – Mimas Nanotechnologies, Northwestern

$100,000 Opportunity HoustonSM Life Science Technology Prize – Medtric Biotech, Purdue University

$100,000 Opportunity HoustonSM Technology Prize – NuMat Technologies, Northwestern University

NEW $100,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize – SolidEnergy, MIT


The competition’s Grand Prize was valued at $874,300 and included $775,000 in equity investments and $99,300 of business services including office space, marketing support, and business mentoring.    


The top six finalists were:

NuMat Technologies, Inc. from Northwestern University won the Grand Prize of $874,300:

NuMat invented a nanomaterial that can store gases just like a sponge soaks up water. One significant application for their nanomaterial is for natural gas tanks used in everyday motor vehicles.  The material stores gases at lower pressure thereby reducing infrastructure costs and increasing design flexibility. This allows tanks to be designed around current automobile underpinnings. The lower pressure storage is also a major safety factor for this and other uses. NuMat Technologies is currently in discussions with some major chemical and technology and transportation companies to commercialize their nanomaterials.


The Grand Prize includes:

  • $450,000 Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas TM, (the “Grand Order of Successful Entrepreneurs”) comprised of Bob Brockman, Rod Canion, Nancy Chang, PhD, Arthur A. Ciocca, Dino Cortopassi, Terry M. Giles, Jack M. Gill, PhD, Michael Holthouse, Eric Pulaski and Dan Steppe.
  • $125,000 OWL Investment Prize
  • $100,000 Life Science Award from Opportunity HoustonSM and Greater Houston Partnership
  • One year of incubation services at the Houston Technology Center and year of computing support provided by 1-Service ($35,000)
  • Marketing and design services provided by BrandExtract and The Padgett Group ($25,000)
  • Web site development and hosting services for one year provided by ContentActive ($30,000)
  • Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000)
  • Best Energy Team Award sponsored by Energy Ventures ($3,000)
  • Roundtrip airline tickets on United Airlines ($3,000)
  • Business Plan software provided by Palo Alto Software
  • Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York

Medtric Biotech, LLC, Purdue University, won second place overall for a total of $146,000, which included the $100,000 Opportunity HoustonSM Technology Prize from the Greater Houston Partnership and the $15,000 cash prize for second place sponsored by Finger Interests, the $25,000 NASA “Game Changer” Award, $3,000 Life Science Award from Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, the $3,000 Outstanding Written Business Plan Award from Palo Alto Software. Medtric provides the measurable difference in wound management with their infection fighting nanotechnology.


Lemm Technologies, LLC , Purdue University won third place from Murphree Venture Partners, the $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize, the $3,000 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award from the Pearland Economic Development Corporation and the Life Science elevator pitch award from Sante Ventures for a total of $111,500. LEMM Technologies is a start-up medical device company with the mission to develop a non-invasive device that performs sensitive blood chemistry analysis.


SolidEnergy, MIT won fourth place from Fulbright & Jaworski and $100,000 U.S. Dept. of Energy
Clean Energy Award and $15,000 Robert & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust for a total of $120,000. SolidEnergy improves the safety and energy density of rechargeable lithium batteries. Its battery technology will help speed up the deployment of electric vehicles, and be a game-changer in the oil drilling industry.


Solanux, Inc., University of Idaho won $25,000, with fifth place award sponsored by Ernst & Young, the $20,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Award sponsored by nCourage Entrepreneurs Investment Group, and the $1,000 Elevator Pitch First Place Award sponsored by Austin Ventures. Solanux produces patented potato food ingredients with high amounts of resistant starch (RS) which help lower a person’s glycemic index response, improve insulin levels, improve digestive health, and lower fat and cholesterol levels.


Salveo Vascular, Johns Hopkins University won $3,000 sixth place award sponsored by Comcast Business Class.

Salveo Vascular has developed the Sonicade, an innovative medical device which reduces the morbidity and mortality associated with central venous catheters. Their vision is to prevent the unnecessary death and suffering of healthcare’s most vulnerable patients by developing novel medical devices which deliver hospitals and patients both clinical and financial value.


Other major prize winners include:

Mimas Nanomaterials, Northwestern University won $101,500 in the competition, taking $100,000 Waste Management “Think Green” Investment Prize. Mimas Nanomaterials manufactures a suite of next generation, high margin, micro- and nano-scale materials by upcycling and reducing post-consumer plastic waste


Innovostics, Johns Hopkins University won $22,750 including the $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award and the $1,000 Teen Judges Elevator Award. Innovostics is a for-profit social venture producing point-of-care diagnostic technologies to same patient lives around the globe.


SasaAfrica, Massachusetts Institute of Technology won $26,250 including the $10,000Sheafor–Lindsay Social Impact Venture Award, the $10,000 Edward H. Molter Memorial Prize for Best Presentation sponsored by Miller, Egan, Molter & Nelson LLP, and the $5,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Award sponsored by nCourage Entrepreneurs Investment Group.   SasaAfrica is e-commerce for the developing world, connecting craftswomen from developing countries to the global marketplace, using a simple mobile phone.


MoMo Scientific, Johns Hopkins University won $10,000 including the new $8,000 Women's Health and Wellness Innovations Award sponsored by Sandi Heysinger and Dick Williams.


Senseye, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark won $5,000 including the $3,000 Disruptive Technology Award sponsored by InContext Solutions. Senseye is a software that makes it possible for to activate and operate mobile device using the eyes.


Other prize winners (in alphabetical order) were:


Action Figure Laboratories, Rice University took home $7,300. Action Figure Laboratories is an exciting retail concept that will provide young boys with the experience of creating custom-built toys, similar to Build-a-Bear Workshop®.


Amaethon, Rice University won $7,750 in prize money. Amaethon provides an alternative sugar source utilizing a proprietary sweet sorghum seed.  Compared to corn or sugar cane, Amaethon sweet sorghum yields more sugar per hectare of farmland with minimal water requirements, resulting in sugar production at a fraction of the price.


ArborVita Associates, University of Chicago is a biotechnology company that has developed a proprietary platform technology to rapidly modify DNA in biomedical research, drug development, and the production of novel human therapies. They won $700 in this year’s competition.


Athena Laboratories, University of Texas at Austin won $7,000. Athena Laboratories is a Medical Device company providing a patented laser technology to physicians. The laser will be sold under the name FemtoSmooth™ and will be used to treat cellulite.


BeFree!, Johns Hopkins University/ Harvard University is developing a vaginal, drug delivery platform technology. The company has received funding through Obama's Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project and has patents pending. They won $700 in this year’s competition.


Bladepad, Brigham Young University won $2,000 for their technology, a razor-thin gamepad for iPhone and iPod touch.  For more information, please visit www.bladepad.com.


Cleanoventions, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India took home $600.Cleanoventions is a start-up on clean energy by IIT Kharagpur students internally driven by the passion to make India energy self-sufficient.


DrilLight, LLC, Northern Institute of Technology Management, Germany won $1,000. DrilLight LLC offers oil rig operators a patent pending solution for monitoring and compensating harmful drill string vibrations to ensure faster, more profitable and safer oil drilling.


Dynamo Micropower, Duke University won $1,250. Dynamo Micropower is a small power products company that provides a unique generator (<30kW genset) that is tailored to our target market’s needs by leveraging a proprietary novel micro gas turbine architecture.


eBiogen, Lancaster University Management School, England won $500. eBiogen is an in-vitro diagnostic devices for non-invasive tests suffer from low accuracy, leading to delay in diagnosis. eBiogen's patent pending technology has the potential to address this grave issue.


Elemental Enzymes, University of Missouri won $1,000. Elemental Enzymes is based off a platform production technology that reduces process steps, lowers costs, and produces ultra-durable enzymes for use in the remediation of soil and groundwater.


Global Paradigmz LLC, Carnegie Mellon University. Global Paradigmz is a software development company founded on the principle of leveraging outcome-driven innovation (ODI) to forge new paradigms in defying the global challenges of our time. They won $500 at the competition.


House Inc., Dartmouth College won ELEC 394 Elevator Pitch Competition Award and $2,000 total.

House Inc enables homeowners to manage home energy efficiency modifications as investments instead of purchases, including one-stop online management, financing, micro-loans, and ROI calculation.


IOMI Technologies, University of Illinois at Chicago, IOMI Technologies develops innovative, sustainable, and socially responsible water remediation and reclamation solutions to improve public health and environmental welfare. They won $700.


Jola Venture, Northeastern University, $1,000 winner. Jola will set up a village technology center, create and distribute sustainable technologies  to Common Initiative Groups, and sell high valued and packaged foods to local and regional African markets


Kentucky Chia, University of Louisville won $2,000, including the Company Showcase award sponsored by McGuire Woods. Kentucky Chia will become the premier distributor of domestically produced chia seeds, an ancient grain with unrivaled benefits for people and animals alike.


Lifetime Instruments, Stanford University took home $500. Lifetime Instruments is an optical instrumentation company founded by scientists and engineers. Their goal is to apply the latest breakthroughs in optical imaging to solve pressing real-world problems, including forensic science and portable medical diagnostics.


Ligadon, The University of Utah, Ligadon, targeting orthopedic and hand surgeons, provides a simple and more effective device for treating ligament and tendon injuries. They won $500.


Mekong Green Tech, Georgia Institute of Technology, won $600. Mekong Green Tech provides a clean alternative to Vietnam's brick-making industry through simple, low-cost, culturally sensitive rice husk gasifiers.


NovoView Diagnostics, University of Illinois at Chicago won $2,250. NovoView Diagnostics is an early stage medical device company created to safely and effectively assess the risk for stroke through conjunctival blood flow measurement.


PhoneSoap, Brigham Young University won $4,500, including the $3,000 Best Sales and Marketing Award sponsored by ContentActive and Houston Business Journal. PhoneSoap is a cell phone accessory company focused on keeping smartphones sanitary.


PiezoPowerTech, Wayne State University won $600. PiezoPowerTech is an emerging company that develops batteryless technology for mobile wireless sensors, in particular focused on vibration energy harvester technology.


reNature, Arizona State University, won $500, reNature is a biotech company with a goal of developing economically viable sustainable alternatives to waste production and energy consumption.


Samriddhi Water Solution, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, India won $600. Samriddhi Water Solutions aims to commercialize biosorption technology from the proprietary technology developed in house for waste water effluents from industries.


Saturnis, Washington University in St. Louis won $600. Saturnis is commercializing a patent-pending process that involves a single-step conversion of biomass to a refiner-ready synthetic crude oil, and looks to raise $750,000 for process optimization.


SlideStacks, The University of Chicago won $600. SlideStacks is online presentation software that changes the way we deliver presentations. They provide an elegantly simply user interface that makes it easy for presenters to introduce the right slides, at the right time, based on the flow of the conversation.


SpatiaLink Solutions, University of Arkansas won $700. SpatiaLink is reinventing the shelf planning process by integrating with the supply chain to improve on-shelf availability. Their trade-secret algorithms optimize product assortment to maximize retail sales and market share for product manufacturers.


Stanford Nitrogen Group, Stanford University won $1,000. The Stanford Nitrogen Group has developed a new wastewater treatment process that recovers renewable energy from waste nitrogen.


T3D Nanotech, LLC University of Delaware won $600. T3D Nanotech, LLC is a high technology startup spun off from patented nanotech research from the University of Delaware.


Think Innoventions, Pvt. Ltd. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India won $1,000. Think Innoventions Pvt. Ltd. is a firm conceived to provide advanced low cost digital pen products and solutions based on our patented "Intelligent Image Capture Technology".


Vasculogic, The University of Pennsylvania/Harvard University won $700. Vasculogic is a medical device company developing blood flow regulator technology to reduce cardiovascular complications in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients.


Other major sponsors of the Rice Business Plan Competition (not already mentioned above) include: NASDAQ OMX Educational Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, SURGE Accelerator, ConocoPhillips, UK Trade & Investment – British Consulate-General Houston, VS Elgohary & Associates, Sim-Tex, LP, FLS Associates, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Oracle, Comerica Bank, Access Global, Bennu, S3 Ventures, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Minuteman Press, Silver Fox Advisors, NCIIA, and Laura and John Arnold Foundation.


About the Rice Business Plan Competition and Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s largest and richest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship along with the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.


This is the 12th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1.55 million in cash and prizes.


More than 130 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition. Venture capitalists and other investors from around the country volunteer their time to judge the competition, with the majority of the 250+ judges coming from the investment sector. One hundred and twenty-eight competitors have gone on to successfully launch their business and are still in business today, raising in excess of $450 million in funding and employ more than 1000 people.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s nationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies.  It was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

Since inception in 1999, the Rice Alliance has hosted over 1,400 start-up companies at its programs which have raised more than $2.5 billion in early-stage capital.   More info:  www.alliance.rice.edu.
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