News

May 03, 2011

Four Student Teams From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Win Cash Prizes In New York State Business Plan Competition

By: by Jessica Otitigbe, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Source:

Six student teams from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute participated in a recent statewide business plan competition, with four teams winning in several categories.

More than 20 student-run teams from colleges and universities across the New York state set their sights on winning part of the $100,000 cash prizes being awarded to winning teams as part of the New York State Business Plan Competition. The event was held on April 28 at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany.

Students from accredited colleges throughout New York state were invited to submit business plans for a student-born innovation that addressed a currently unmet need.  Additionally, students from diverse academic areas were encouraged to work together to create a multidisciplinary approach to their research and business proposals. The competition featured several topical tracks that students could compete in that included: healthcare, information technology, nanotechnology, renewable energy/sustainability, services, and social/nonprofit.

The winning Rensselaer teams included:

  • MICROrganic Technologies, which produced a device that converts energy present in waste water to electricity while meeting the current treatment requirements, and ultimately making waste water treatment a net zero-energy process. Led by Brent Solina and Mark Lyons, the team won the first-place prize of $10,000 in the cleantech/sustainability track.

  • Wavefront Technologies, which is developing a patent-pending technology that uses ultrasound, in conjunction with advanced communications and signals processing techniques, to wirelessly transmit high-rate digital information as well as electrical power through metallic walls. Led by Jonathan Ashdown, Tristan Lawry, and Kyle Wilt, the team won the second-place prize of $5,000 in the high-tech track.

  • Fire Department Solutions, a nonprofit organization that provides cost-effective, user-friendly fire department management software systems as well as support for fire departments. Led by Joseph Dougherty and Rachel O'Neil, the team won the second-place prize of $5,000 in the services/nonprofit track.

  • Microwaves for Nanostructures, a nanomaterial manufacturing business based around a novel and innovative manufacturing technique that uses microwave synthesis. Developed by Rutvik Mehta and Yanliang Zhang, the team won the third-place prize of $1,500 in the high-tech track.

"The UAlbany NanoCollege is delighted to have spearheaded the New York State Business Plan Competition, which is developing into a premier platform for identifying, nurturing, and showcasing entrepreneurial talent," said Pradeep Haldar, CNSE professor and head of NanoEconomics. "The competition promotes an integrated and interdisciplinary learning experience that supports academic and research excellence, while instilling the critical importance of translating innovative ideas into practical and pragmatic business opportunities. We appreciate the support of SEFCU as this year's title sponsor, and are encouraged by the continuing growth and success of the event."

 "The New York State Business Plan Competition offers students a unique opportunity to develop business plans that will help them transition virtual products and services into real-world businesses," said Professor Gina O'Connor, associate professor and director of the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer. "We are pleased to have entertained a broad group of ideas turned into strategic plans, and to have seen firsthand their potential to transform innovations into many different industries."

Additional Rensselaer teams that participated in the competition include: Betonicaum, which serves as a full-service provider for patent management with a focus on the users of patent information in a company, like CEOs, CTOs, accountants, and others. The program would support companies in the identification of patentable innovations and ensures professional patent management on behalf of the customer. Betonicaum was developed by Ulrike Rehn, a management graduate student; Efficient-C Composites is a manufacturing innovation company currently focusing on energy-efficient processing of advanced composite materials. It was created by Jaron Kuppers and Casey Hoffman.  

The contest was presented by CNSE in partnership with UAlbany's School of Business, the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer, and Union Graduate College School of Management. This year, the event was expanded to include several higher education institutions from around New York, including CNSE, UAlbany, Rensselaer, Syracuse University, Columbia University, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and Clarkson University.

Cash prizes were made possible by title sponsor SEFCU. The winning teams were chosen by a panel of 20 judges representing a host of leading organizations from the technology, legal, and financial sectors.

 "The New York State Business Plan Competition serves as a focal point for our recent efforts to promote student entrepreneurship, and to use our new School of Business Building as the catalyst for effective commercialization of ideas and intellectual property developed at the university,"said UAlbany School of Business Dean Donald S. Siegel. "I also applaud Michael J. Castellana, president and CEO of SEFCU, who received his B.S. and MBA from the School of Business and serves on the School of Business Advisory Council, for supporting this important competition as title sponsor."

"As a business leader, encouraging entrepreneurship is a great way to stimulate our economy, add jobs, help make a positive impact in our community, and inspire young people," said Castellana, SEFCU president and CEO. "SEFCU is pleased to be part of such an exciting initiative that brings today's workforce together with tomorrow's business leaders in an effort to foster technological advancements that will benefit us all."

For more information about the competition winners, see the CNSE announcement.