2010 Wharton Business Plan Competition: “Great Eight” Finalists Vie for over $75,000 in Prizes, VC Interest

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Contenders include: Portable breast cancer screening; “Power water” for emerging markets; Private “sales club” for brand-seeking co-eds; spinal disc regeneration

PHILADELPHIA, PA.—The Wharton Business Plan Competition has announced the eight finalists who will vie for more than $75,000 in prizes at the annual Venture Finals taking place Wednesday, April 28 at the Wharton School’s Jon M. Huntsman Hall, on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The Wharton Business Plan Competition “Great Eight” finalists are:

1. CADIA Technologies: more comfortable, efficacious, less expensive cervical cancer screening.
2. Cellulosic BioTherapeutics: cellulose gel injection regenerates spinal disc healing.
3. Cortical Concepts: device for osteoporosis patients increases long term success of bone screw surgery success.
4. First Stage Diagnostics: portable breast cancer screening that can locate tumors as small as 1mm in size radiation free.
5. Hector Beverages: nutrient rich “PowerWater” drink for emerging markets in need of healthy beverages.
6. Kembrel.com: private “sales clubs” for students offering discounted brand name products
7. NanoLab: calculator-sized device the can detect biomarkers for cardiovascular disease, cancer, HIV, influenza
8. R2R Therapeutics: cationic steroid antibiotic to treat infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria

Over the years, the Wharton Business Plan Competition, which is open to any University of Pennsylvania student and managed by Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, has seen numerous student teams go on to become successful businesses including PayMyBills.com, buySAFE, Integral Molecular, NetConversions, Stata Labs, DealMaven, Verge Solutions and MicroMRI.

“Given the uncertain economic conditions, this year students are, more than ever, using the Wharton Business Plan Competition to test their new business concepts in a safe environment,” says Megan Mitchell, senior associate director for Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs. “The Finalists, eight teams chosen from nearly 120, are now integrating the feedback from early round judges to achieve the highest possible level of success at the Venture Finals.”

The eight finalist teams face off at the Venture Finals with 20-minute presentations to judges drawn from the business and venture capital community who will then evaluate the persuasiveness and viability of each business plan. Students will receive $76,000 in cash prizes and in-kind awards including the $20,000 Michelson Grand Prize, which is made possible by the generosity of the Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. Charitable Foundation, Inc. The Venture Finals event, sponsored in part by MentorTech Ventures, annually attracts over 200 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investment bankers, alumni, faculty and students.

Once again the Venture Finals will feature the People’s Choice award taking place during the day-ending reception. During the reception, an audience of hundreds will hear brief elevator pitches from all Finalists while the Venture Finals judges are sequestered. Just before the judges return to announce the winners, the audience will get the chance to vote for their own favorite pitch and award that team $3,000.

New this year, are three $1,000 awards determined by the student management committee of the Wharton BPC. From the semi-finalist submissions the committee award prizes in the following categories: “social,” “global,” and “committee’s choice.”

Venture Finals judges scheduled to select the winning teams represent a range of organizations including venture capital firm First Round Capital, Fortune 500 firm Merck, and investment company, Karlin Asset Management. The judges are:

a. James Cassano, WG’73, Partner, CoActive Health Solutions, LLC
b. David A. Cohen, President, Karlin Asset Management
c. Maxine Gowen, WG’02, President & CEO, Trevena, Inc.
d. Josh Kopelman, W’93, Managing Partner, First Round Capital
e. Daniel R. Pascheles, Vice President, Global Competitive Intelligence, Merck & Co., Inc.

Note: WG=MBA alum; W=Undergraduate alum

Among this year’s finalists, a few have already achieved important distinctions and milestones. NanoLab in 2009 won the IEEE Student Humanitarian Supreme Prize. Cellulosic BioTherapeutics has received funding from the National Science Foundation. Cadia and Cortical Concepts were named finalists at the Rice University Business Plan Competition and the Tulane University Business Plan Competition respectively. is a member of the Wharton VIP Program and won a $10,000 Wharton Venture Award.

About the Wharton School and Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs

In 1973, The Wharton School became the first school to develop a fully integrated curriculum of entrepreneurial studies. Today Wharton, through Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, supports and seeds innovation and entrepreneurship globally through teaching, research and outreach to a range of organizations through its many programs, initiatives and research centers. At the same time, Wharton students and alumni are helping to build entrepreneurial enterprises around the world and impacting virtually every industry.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The School has more than 4,900 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of 85,000 graduates.

For more information on the Wharton Business Plan Competition, go to: http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu.


Peter Winicov,
Senior Associate Director of Communications
215-746-6471 or winicov@wharton.upenn.edu