And $75K in Prizes Goes to…

And $75K in Prizes Goes to…

And $75K in Prizes Goes to…

Winners of the 2009 University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition, held Friday, May 8, include FlexEl LLC, Tseai Energy Unlimited, XyloFuel LLC, and Haemechanics, according to the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).

The winning technologies could disrupt the market for batteries powering small electronic devices, could bring electricity to billions without it, could produce ethanol for as little as $1 a gallon and could significantly improve wound care.

Nine finalist faculty and student teams unveiled their new technology company plans to a group of distinguished judges from the region's new venture community. Winners were selected in the information technology, life sciences, and undergraduate categories, while two teams received Warren Citrin Social Impact Awards.

"These companies have genuine potential to address billion dollar needs and pain points in our society," says Dean Chang, director of Mtech's ventures and education programs and director of the Technology Advancement Program. "Best of all, they are all built upon promising technologies developed right here at the University of Maryland, which reflects the increasingly significant role the University plays in fostering innovation and driving the future of this region's economy."

Competition winners include:

FlexEl LLC, winner of $20K in the information technology division, has developed a proprietary battery that has more capacity than any other rechargeable, flexible, thin-film battery in the world. The company's environmentally friendly batteries recharge wirelessly at extremely low voltages, enabling them to take advantage of energy scavenging techniques not feasible with other batteries. They are well suited to power ultra-small electronics, including wireless sensor networks, implantable medical devices, RFID devices and smart cards, and could outlast many of those devices. FlexEl's batteries can be manufactured using a cost-effective printing process. Team members include: electrical and computer engineering professors Marty Peckerar and Neil Goldsman; electrical and computer engineering research associate Zeynep Dilli; and Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, a graduate student in the master's program in telecommunications.

Haemechanics, winner of $20K in the life sciences division, has developed a synthetic, hemostatic material capable of simultaneously inducing blood clotting and delivering therapeutics. The material is able to induce clotting as effectively as biologically based products, at a fraction of the price. Team members include: Fischell Department of Bioengineering research assistant Brendan Casey; Fischell Department of Bioengineering undergraduate research assistant Adam Behrens; Peter Kofinas, Keystone Professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering; and Bartley Griffith; professor of surgery, chief, division of cardiac surgery, director, heart and lung transplantation at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Tseai Energy Unlimited, winner of $10K in the undergraduate division and winner of a $15K Warren Citrin Social Impact Award, is developing a system to provide sustainable electricity to rural communities in the developing world and help improve the quality of life in those communities. The company plans to design and build micro-power plants using renewable energy sources, while also establishing food processing plants, based on a community's local agriculture, to provide biofuel materials and other food-based products. Team members include: environmental economics undergraduate student Trevor Young; geology undergraduate student Stanley Ohaka; and American Studies undergraduate student Shavon Holland.

XyloFuel LLC, winner of a $10K Warren Citrin Social Impact Award, aims to license out patented processes for converting plant fiber to fuel ethanol and other products. University of Maryland researchers discovered a bacterium that can readily digest and ferment various forms of plant fiber to ethanol. Team members include Richard Kohn, professor of animal science, and Robert Frank, engineering manager for XyloFuel.

New to the competition this year was $25K for the Warren Citrin Social Impact Award, made possible by a donation from Warren Citrin, co-founder of Gloto, and Solipsys (now Raytheon Solipsys).

"Given the open-ended nature of the term "social impact," I was curious to see what grand ideas faculty and students have to improve our world," says Citrin. "The two winners, Tseai Energy Unlimited and XyloFuel, more than justified making this an annual award. I felt good about the quality of those two plans and the potential social impact their technologies could provide."

Sponsors for the competition included Fish & Richardson P.C., Nixon Peabody LLP, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

Judges for the competition included: Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director, Amplifier Ventures; Henry Ahn, Program Manager, TEDCO; Lou Cantolupo, Bio Entrepreneur, co-founder, Omnia Biologics; Melissa Carrier, Executive Director, Social Value Creation; Warren Citrin, co-founder of Gloto, and Solipsys (now Raytheon Solipsys); Martha Connolly, Director MIPS and Mtech Partnerships; Craig Dye, Affinity Lab; Michael Gutch, Member, Life Sciences Team, H.I.G. Ventures; Mark Grovic, General Partner, New Markets Venture Partners; Rich Harris, General Partner and Founder, RedShift Ventures; Karl Renner, Principal, Fish and Richardson; Jeffrey N. Townes, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP

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May 12, 2009


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