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University of Maryland Announces Finalists for $75K Business Plan Competition

COLLEGE PARK, Md., April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Maryland today announces nine finalist teams for the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition.

Finalists present their ideas to a panel of new venture experts on May 8, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the University of Maryland, College Park. The competition is managed by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).

Finalists in the Information Technology Category include:

  • FlexEl LLC: has developed a proprietary battery that packs more energy per square centimeter than any other rechargeable flexible thin-film battery in the world. It also recharges at extremely low voltages, enabling it to take advantage of energy scavenging techniques not feasible with other batteries. Finally, unlike other rechargeable thin film batteries requiring expensive semiconductor processing equipment, they can be manufactured using a cost-effective printing process. Because of these unique attributes, the FlexEl battery is especially well-suited to power a wide range of ultra-small electronics, including wireless sensor networks, implantable medical devices, RFID devices, and smart cards.

Team: Marty Peckerar, professor, department of electrical and computer engineering; Neil Goldsman, professor, department of electrical and computer engineering; Zeynep Dilli, research associate, department of electrical and computer engineering; Josekuttan Manikathuparambil, graduate student, master's program in telecommunications.

  • Legal River: Legal River is the only online marketplace dedicated to helping lawyers and businesses connect. is a simple, secure and intuitive online platform where small and mid-sized businesses can solicit, compare, review and contact lawyers. Through the company's marketplace platform, businesses submit their pertinent business and legal information and receive responses from lawyers interested in working with them. Legal River empowers businesses to find the right lawyer and helps lawyers effectively reach out to businesses in need of their services. Legal River is a free service for businesses.

Team: Reed Alexander Atkin, MBA student; A. Zachery Girod, MBA student; Benjamin C. Hatten, MBA student.

  • The Nuorasi Group, LLC: is developing a revolutionary distribution center order fulfillment system that will advance the current industry standard pick-to-light systems, addressing and overcoming their weaknesses with an innovative, elegant and cost effective product known as Laser Pick. Integrating Laser Pick with their existing software suite and the extensive supply chain experience of their principals, The Nuorasi Group is poised to revolutionize the order fulfillment systems and processes found in virtually every distribution center throughout the world.

Team: Shirin Bansal, MBA student; Theodore Economy, partner/CTO, The Nuorasi Group; Vikram Gupta, partner, The Nuorasi Group.

Finalists in the Biotechnology Category include:

  • Callinix: provides a microfluidic, drug-screening test bed using proprietary technology to bind cells and commercially relevant biological components, providing a cheaper and faster alternative to traditional well-plate methods. The Callinix test bed addresses a critical problem in the current drug discovery process, namely the large number of formulations that must be screened in order to produce a commercial pharmaceutical drug. Rapid and efficient screening of the potential drug chemistries on the Callinix test bed in a manner that mimics the in vivo real-world application produces drug candidates better suited to secure FDA approval, thereby increasing the return-on-investment of pharmaceutical companies.

Team: Varnika Roy, graduate research assistant, molecular and cell biology; Dean Berlin, graduate research assistant, Fischell Department of Bioengineering; Amin Zargar, operations manager, McMaster-Carr; William Bentley, Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor and Chair, Fischell Department of Bioengineering.

  • Haemechanics: has developed the first and only 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: Brendan Casey, graduate research assistant, Fischell Department of Bioengineering; Adam Behrens, undergraduate research assistant, Fischell Department of Bioengineering; Peter Kofinas, Keystone Professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering; Bartley Griffith; professor of surgery, chief, division of cardiac surgery, director, heart and lung transplantation, University of Maryland Medical Center.

  • XyloFuel LLC: is a newly formed company that 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: Richard Kohn, professor of animal science; Robert Frank, engineering manager, XyloFuel.

Finalists in the undergraduate category include:

  • Inari: provides print advertisers with the ability to push information to the mobile devices of interested consumers, while protecting those consumers from unwanted spam. Inari will sell its services based on the number of text message requests for information received from customers. As the first fully automated national provider of mobile marketing solutions for small and medium sized businesses, Inari will provide its clients with a simple, affordable solution to supplement their current advertising campaigns.

Team: Benjamin Kubic, undergraduate student, operations management, and government and politics; Katherine Bodner, undergraduate student, department of mechanical engineering; Jonathan Chung, undergraduate student, department of mechanical engineering; Christina Lam, undergraduate student, department of electrical and computer engineering.

  • Refill Manager LLC: is developing an online healthcare prescription service for physicians and their patients. The system allows physicians to electronically write and transmit prescriptions to the pharmacy of a patient's choice, thereby eliminating error-prone, handwritten prescriptions. When using the service, patients also can easily request a prescription refill online straight from their physicians. These services reduce costs, errors and office inefficiencies for physicians, while for patients it significantly reduces prescription error risk and time spent traveling to and from the pharmacy. The company does not distribute medications, rather it facilitates the electronic transmission of the prescription requests from the physician to a patient's pharmacy.

Team: Gregory Waldstreicher, undergraduate student; Gideon Platt, undergraduate student, New York University.

  • Tseai Energy Unlimited (TEU): is a new company that has developed a dynamic system that will provide sustainable electricity to rural communities in the developing world and help improve the quality of life in those communities. The company will design and build micro-power plants using renewable energy sources available in the communities, while also establishing processing plants to localize value-added services for the region's raw materials. The power plant and the processing plant will be linked and interdependent, with the electricity needed to run the processing plant coming directly from the power plant and the processing plant, directly increasing the overall income of the population, reducing the aggregate cost of producing the electricity, and thereby making the power plant sustainable for the community.

Team: Trevor Young, undergraduate student, environmental economics; Stanley Ohaka, undergraduate student, geology; Shavon Holland, undergraduate student, American Studies.

The distinguished judges that selected finalist teams included: Jonathan Aberman, founder and managing director, Amplifier Venture Partners LP; Henry Ahn, program manager, technology funding programs, Maryland Technology Development Corporation; Paul Allenza, director, Biotechnology Research and Education Program; entrepreneur Bill Bellows; bio-entrepreneur Lou Cantolupo; Warren Citrin, co-founder and board member, Gloto Corp., co-founder, Solipsys Corporation; Rob Cohen; Craig Dye, member, board of advisors, Articulated Impact & Affinity Lab; Brent Goldfarb, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship, department of management and organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business; Oliver Jay, associate, New Enterprise Associates; William Lee, CEO, co-founder and director, eMembrane Inc.; Andrew Plump, vice president, Merck; angel investor Bob Proctor; Sha Wang, principal, Cybernaut (China) Investment; Coach Wei, CEO, Yottaa Inc. and chairman, Nexaweb Technologies; Sonny Vu, founder, EVP, AgaMatrix.

This year, a special award will be given to company ideas with a positive impact on society or sustainability through the generous support of Warren Citrin.

The competition is sponsored by Fish & Richardson P.C. and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO).

Now in its eighth year, the 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 by offering one-to-one coaching for finalists, as well as the experience of presenting ideas to an experienced panel of judges.

The University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition has served as a launch point for the commercial success of previous winners, including Squarespace Inc., RioRey Inc., AnthroTronix Inc., Alertus Technologies, and Chesapeake PERL.

For more information about the competition and to register to attend the finals, visit

About the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) (

The mission of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) is tri-fold: educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs; help entrepreneurs create successful technology-based ventures; and connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. Founded in 1983, Mtech has had a $19.6 billion cumulative impact on the Maryland economy through its programs. Mtech is a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

SOURCE University of Maryland
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