Rice University team wins first place in Thailand business plan competition


Feb 20, 2011

Special to the Rice News

The Rice University business plan team Indirect Imaging won first place in the mai Bangkok Business Challenge, hosted by the Sasin Business School at Chulalongkorn University Feb. 25-27. The team also won best presentation in their competitive group. 

Sixteen teams from around the world were invited to present at the competition, and the top six competed in the final round. Rice was the only school from the United States that was selected to present at the competition; the other semifinalist teams came from Europe, Australia and Asia.

“Coupled with a top-five ranking in graduate entrepreneurship in the U.S., this business plan competition win reflects both our ability to excel on a global scale and our collaborative culture across the Rice University campus,” said Bill Glick, dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business. “Winning best presentation is a textbook example of the school’s solid commitment to teaching communication and presentation skills.”

Indirect Imaging invented a revolutionary new camera that is capable of determining instantly the chemical composition of an area or subject within a digital photograph. These instant images can identify myriad chemical, organic, biological and mechanical conditions. Applications for this technology are found in food growing, harvesting and testing as well as surveillance and geological imaging. Potential biological applications for blood and dermal conditions also exist. 

“This is huge for us,” said Robert Kester, chief operating officer of Indirect Imaging and a graduate student in bioengineering at Rice. “I think this experience validated our technology as well as our business plan moving forward. We are really excited about the opportunities this opens up for us.”

The endeavor is the result of cross-campus collaboration. The business plan is based on technology developed in the lab of Rice’s Tomasz Tkaczyk, assistant professor in bioengineering. Kester is a research scientist in Tkaczyk’s lab. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA student Allison Lami is CEO of Indirect Imaging. She brought on Rice MBA students Tadzia GrandPré, Frances Parker and Anne Robin to participate in the competition. 

“This is a great example of what students from the School of Engineering and the Jones School can accomplish when they work together and call on the expertise of the Rice Alliance,” said Sallie Keller, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering. “We are working toward more of these collaborations in the future, and I’m sure they will result not only in competition success for our students but in innovations that fuel new, successful businesses.”

Indirect Imaging won $10,000 in cash at the Thailand competition to further their business. Lami and Kester are currently finalizing the agreement with Rice’s Office of Technology Transfer to license the technology. 

The team was mentored over the past year by Tom Kraft, former director of client services at the Houston Technology Center (HTC). Lami has been an HTC intern, and Indirect Imaging is now a candidate company of the HTC. Dennis Murphree, instructor of the Jones School’s creative entrepreneurship class and one of the founders of the Rice Business Plan Competition, coached the team along with his class co-instructor, Brain Hoogendam. The team was supported by the Jones Partners, corporate supporters of the Jones School, with aid for travel expenses to the competition.

“I believe this is the first time a Rice University team has won first place in a major business plan competition,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which organizes and hosts the Rice Business Plan Competition, where Indirect Imaging will represent Rice in April. “They have been selected to compete in the WBT University Technology Commercialization Competition as well as the Venture Challenge at San Diego State University. Both of these competitions will help the team prepare for the Rice Business Plan Competition, which is the world’s richest and largest competition, with more than $800,000 in cash and prizes.”

Rice Alliance is the 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 its inception, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 startups, which have raised more than half a billion dollars in early stage capital. 

For more information about the Rice Alliance, visit www.alliance.rice.edu

–Mary Lynn Fernau is director of marketing for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

The Rice University business plan team accepts their award in Thailand. Pictured from left are Anne Robin, Tadzia GrandPré, Robert Kester, Allison Lami and Frances Parker.Reference: http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=13845


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