PolyVec Systems' Breast Cancer Gene Therapy Delivery Solution Wins $45K in Three Categories
COLLEGE PARK, Md., May
Winning student and faculty teams were selected from 71 initial entries and eight finalists, who gave investor presentations on May 6 to teams of expert judges as well as a public audience of hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and others from the regional startup venture community at the University of Maryland.
PolyVec Systems, led by bioengineering doctoral student Irene Bacalocostantis and Peter Kofinas, Keystone Professor and associate chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, won $45,000 across three categories. PolyVec is developing a synthetic polymer carrier that delivers therapeutic genes to breast and other cancer cells.
"My experience with the competition has been amazing," says Bacalocostantis. "My first pitch early on was all science. But my mentors, Craig Dye from Mtech and FounderCorps member Donna Harris, helped me focus and gave me a better understanding of how the business plan should be adapted to a business audience. Despite their busy schedules, they were always available to answer my questions and were eager to help. Working with them made the entire process very exciting."
PolyVec won $25,000 and the Lockheed Martin Grand Prize in the high technology/biotechnology category, the $10,000 Maryland Biotechnology Center Best Biotechnology Company prize, and a $10,000 Warren Citrin Social Impact Award.
Bacalocostantis said she plans to further develop her technology this summer through preliminary trials, finish her degree next year, validate market interest and first customers, and proceed with her company.
Advanced Suture Device for Scarless Wound Healing won first place and $10,000 in the undergraduate division. The company, whose team is comprised of mechanical engineering undergraduate student Jin Xiao, economics major Sharon Liu and Yang Tao, biological resources engineering professor and director of the Bio-imaging and Machine Vision Laboratory, is developing a novel wound closure device that does not leave scars.
Trade Assurance International won second place and $5,000 in the undergraduate category. The company, led by finance major and Hinman CEO Program student Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, civil engineering major and Hinman CEOs Program student Sam Winter and David Wortman, is developing a high-definition video platform to mitigate trade risk for the international B2B trade and procurement industry.
HemeCentric, a company developing anti-parasite drugs and iron supplements based upon groundbreaking discoveries in heme biology and iron regulation, won the $15,000 Warren Citrin Social Impact Award. HemeCentric's team includes animal and avian sciences professor Iqbal Hamza, Gregory J. Feulner and Steven L. Hubert.
All of the competition winners are eligible for one free year in Mtech's TERP Startup Laboratory, a program designed for entrepreneurs who need a place to quickly develop technology prototypes and get some help in starting their companies.
"Our business plan competition has always followed a proven formula for success: innovative technologies that can significantly impact and improve society, critical seed funding, and expert mentoring from successful serial entrepreneurs," says Dean Chang, director of Mtech's venture programs and director of the Technology Advancement Program. "The new partnerships with Lockheed Martin, the Maryland Biotechnology Center, and FounderCorps made this year's competition better than ever before. For example, the partnership with FounderCorps, whose members include this region's most successful entrepreneurs, significantly elevated the intensity and value of the mentoring and coaching that each finalist received. We not only saw fantastic investor presentations, but also relationships bloom between teams and their FounderCorps mentors that will continue well beyond the competition. In addition, finalist teams and audience members alike benefited from the keen insights and advice from the panel of company founders and from keynote speaker and former competition winner  Corinna Lathan, who was named one of the most creative minds in business by Fast Company magazine last year."
Sponsors of the competition included: Lockheed Martin, Warren Citrin, Fish & Richardson P.C., Nixon Peabody LLP, and the Maryland Biotechnology Center.
Judges in the high technology and biotechnology category included: Jonathan Aberman, managing director, Amplifier Ventures; Gwilym Attwell, principal, Fish & Richardson P.C.; Ed Barrientos, CEO, Brazen Careerist, managing partner, Zeitgeist Holdings, visiting angel, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; Harry D'Andrea, general partner, Valhalla Partners; Joe DelGuercio, managing director, CNF Investments; John D. Evans, vice president business innovation, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Mark Kass, partner and chair, Israel business, Nixon Peabody LLP; Charles Montague, program manager, biotechnology development programs, Maryland Biotechnology Center; and Janet Yang, principal, Novak Biddle Venture Partners.
Judges in the undergraduate category included: Warren Citrin, co-founder and board member, Gloto Corporation and co-founder, Solipsys Corporation; Samuel E. Feigin, partner and deputy chair, business and finance department, Nixon Peabody LLP; David Kirsch, associate professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business; Corinna Lathan, co-founder, board chair and CEO of AnthroTronix; Amy Millman, president, Springboard Enterprises; Mark Rothman, founder and CEO, MYTA; and Sebastian Traeger, founder, Razoo.
The eleventh annual University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition promotes the commercialization of innovative ideas and university-created technologies by offering faculty and students prizes for the best new venture plans. The competition emphasizes learning through coaching and the experience of presenting ideas to an expert panel of judges.
Since its inception in 2001, the BPC has awarded $627,000 in prizes to University of Maryland faculty, students, and alumni to help them launch their innovative new ventures.
Previous winners include five multi-million dollar ventures, two of which were among the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in 2010 for the second straight year.
The UM $75K Business Plan Competition was founded and is managed by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).
For photos from the competition, visit: www.bpc.umd.edu.
About Mtech (www.mtech.umd.edu) The mission of Mtech is to educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, create successful technology ventures, and connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. Founded in 1983, Mtech has had a $25.7 billion impact on the Maryland economy and helped create or retain more than 5,300 jobs. Top-selling products such as MedImmune's Synagis®, which protects infants from a deadly respiratory disease, and Hughes Communications' HughesNet®, which brings satellite-based, high-speed Internet access to the world, were developed through or enhanced by our programs. Billion dollar companies such as Martek Biosciences and Digene Corporation graduated from our incubator. Mtech offers three experiential learning programs and 30 entrepreneurship and innovation courses, served to 1,244 enrollees in 2010, at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and executive education levels.
SOURCE Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute
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