Forest Devices from Carnegie Mellon University wins 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition

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April 8, 2017

Jeff Falk

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Mary Lynn Fernau

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Forest Devices from Carnegie Mellon University wins 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition
More than $1.3 million awarded at world’s richest, largest student startup competition 

HOUSTON – (April 8, 2017) – Forest Devices from Carnegie Mellon University emerged as the top startup company tonight in the 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. The annual event is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition.

Selected by 275 judges from the investment sector as representing the best investment opportunity and taking home nearly $700,000 in cash and prizes, Forest Devices bested 41 other competitors hailing from some of the world’s top universities. Forest Devices is a medical device startup located in Pittsburgh that is developing AlphaStroke, the first stroke screening device that can potentially be used by all medical personnel in any environment.

Significant new prizes this year and the teams that won them include:

* $300,000 GOOSE Investment Grand Prize – Forest Devices, Carnegie Mellon University.

* $200,000 OWL Investment Prize Sponsor – Forest Devices, Carnegie Mellon University.

* $200,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize and $500,000 investment from Elevate Capital – Medical Magnesium, RWTH Aachen University, Germany.

* $125,000 Houston Angel Network Investment Prize – Forest Devices, Carnegie Mellon University.

* $100,000 Cisco Innovation Challenge Prize – Luso Labs, Columbia University.

* $50,000 Department of Energy Clean Tech Prize – Swift Coat, Arizona State University.

* $50,000 Finger Interests and Anderson Family Fund Second-Place Investment Prize – MITO Material Solutions, Oklahoma State University.

* $25,000 Rice Brown School of Engineering Tech Innovation Prize – Intelligent Flying Machines, Northwestern University.

* $60,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize – MITO Material Solutions, Oklahoma State University ($40,000) and SandBox Semiconductor, University of Texas at Austin ($20,000).

* $25,000 Texas Business Hall of Fame Best of Texas Prize – NovoThelium, University of Texas at San Antonio.

* $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Human Health & Performance Innovation Cash Award Sponsor – Rendever, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* TMCx Life Science Accelerator Prize – Alleviant Medical, Rice University, and Forest Devices, Carnegie Mellon University.

* Station Houston Engine of Innovation Prize – SandBox Semiconductor, University of Texas at Austin.

Smart Bandage from the University of Waterloo, Canada, won the $5,000 online People’s Choice Competition sponsored by SoFi. The winner was determined by more than 13,000 people who voted for their favorite team via a Facebook survey held March 16 through noon Central Daylight Time today.

The prizes were presented tonight at a banquet at the Marriott Marquis that concluded the three-day event, which began April 6.

This year’s competitors were the most diverse in the history of the competition and came from top universities around the globe, according to Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance. The teams were chosen from more than 350 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other. Each team made its case in 15-minute investment pitches and a rapid-fire 60-second elevator-pitch contest on the first night of the competition.

The top six finalists based on the judges’ overall scores in the 2017 RBPC were:

Forest Devices, Carnegie Mellon University — grand prize and additional prizes for a total value of nearly $700,000. 

The grand prize includes:

  • $300,000-plus Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas.
  • Marketing services from The Padgett Group ($25,000).
  • Website development, hosting and search engine optimization services for one year provided by Astoundz ($30,000).
  • Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000).
  • Business Plan software provided by Palo Alto Software.
  • Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York.

MITO Material Solutions, Oklahoma State University – second place and more than $90,000 in prizes.
MITO Material Solutions makes a nano-additive solution infused in epoxy that increases composite material toughness by 100 percent with no added manufacturing time.

  • 50,000 Finger Interests and Anderson Family Fund Second-Place Investment Prize.
  • $40,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneur Prize.

Medical Magnesium, RWTH Aachen University, Germany — third place and $700,000 in individual prizes.

Medical Magnesium develops innovative bioabsorbable magnesium implants that turn into bone instead of being removed.

  • $200,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize.
  • $500,000 investment from Elevate Capital.
  • $1,000 Best Elevator Pitch Prize.

Swift Coat, Arizona State University — fourth place and more than $70,000 in individual prizes.

Swift Coat uses nanoparticle coatings to transform ordinary surfaces into extraordinary surfaces.

  • $50,000 Department of Energy Clean Tech Prize.
  • $15,000 Polsinelli Innovation Prize.
  • $1,000 for first place from High School Judging Panel.

Droice Labs, Columbia University — fifth place.
Droice Labs is a health care startup that uses artificial intelligence to help doctors choose the right treatment for each and every patient.

NovoThelium, The University of Texas at San Antonio — sixth place and nearly $40,000 in individual prizes.

NovoThelium is a biotechnology startup that has created a tissue-engineered scaffold that enables patients to regenerate a nipple made from their own cells after mastectomy that maintains projection, has neutral pigmentation and the potential for improved sensation.

  • $25,000 Texas Business Hall of Fame Best of Texas Prize.
  • $10,000 Pearland Spirit of Entrepreneurship Prize.

More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition.

Since the RBPC’s inception in 2001, when nine teams competed for $10,000, more than 201 competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today or have successfully sold their ventures. For example, the winner of the 2014 competition, Adhesys Medical (which competed as Medical Adhesive Revolution), a German-born biotech company now based in Houston’s Texas Medical Center, just announced that it has been acquired by an international medical company. Past competitors have raised in excess of $1.8 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs.

For more information about the RBPC, visit www.rbpc.rice.edu.

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The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship 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 Rice schools: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. Since the Rice Alliance’s inception, more than 1,800 early stage companies have presented at the 180+ programs hosted by the alliance and raised more than $4.2 billion in funding.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.

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