Team Insituomics Takes Top Honors at 2014 Business Plan Competition
Mucotherapeutics is a close second, but all seven teams impress veteran judging panel
Team Insituomics, sponsored by Caltech, was able to beat out steep competition on April 30 to win the 2014 KGI Business Plan Competition. Meanwhile, the second place team, Mucotherapeutics, which was sponsored by UC Merced, also impressed the judging panel.
"All the teams did a good job on developing and presenting their business plans," said Jim Widergren, a member of the judging panel and a retired senior VP of global customer operations at Beckman Coulter. "The Insituomics Team had the best combination of a credible scientific foundation for the product and approach to commercialization. In addition, they did an excellent job in their oral presentation."
The Business Plan Competition is part of the Applied Entrepreneurship class co-taught by co-taught by Joel West, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at KGI, and Mark Brown, senior scientist at Claremont Biosolutions and a KGI alumnus. The course provides students a hands-on opportunity to plan a new life science business, and exemplifies key KGI values of preparing students to be entrepreneurial, interdisciplinary and applied.
Insituomics—made up of KGI students Jagan Choudhary, Jixi He, Ashi Jain and Melanie Ufkin—created a plan for the Insituomics Sequencer. Invented by Caltech Assistant Professor of Chemistry Long Cai, the sequencer will provide researchers a better way to visualize RNA transcripts in situ. Inability to visualize RNA transcripts in situ is one of the key problems researchers face while analyzing cells. In order to analyze RNA transcripts, researchers often need to utilize multiple technologies leading to large investments in time, expense and labor. Many times this leads to sub-par results. The Insituomics Sequencer allows researchers to visualize the transcripts in situ and within one machine, providing accurate results more quickly and inexpensively.
The Mucotherapeutics team of Pamela Bonar, Jacob Justus, James Miller and Mrudang Shah developed a business plan for a patent-pending technology that utilizes no active drug, chemical or enzyme to disrupt mucus. The revolutionary mucolytic therapy was created by Wei-Chun Chin, an associate professor at UC Merced's School of Engineering. It has the potential to effectively clear respiratory mucus with no adverse drug reactions, improving patient quality of life.
This year, the competition included seven student teams of Master of Bioscience (MBS) and Postdoctoral Professional Masters (PPM) students. Each team was matched to a specific patented or patent-pending life science technology seeking external commercialization. Teams are required to develop a complete business plan to commercialize the sponsor's IP, including industry sizing, competitive analysis, sales forecasts, development plan and financial projections. Each plan is intended to be suitable for consideration by angels or other early-stage investors and is judged by a panel of venture life science executives. In addition to Widergren, this year's panel was made of KGI BOT Chair Bob Curry, a partner of Latterell Venture Partners; KGI Trustee Robert Baltera, former CEO of Amira Pharmaceuticals; angel investor Craig Brooks, who leads startup pharmaceutical company BCN Biosciences and medical device company Biostruxs; Stephen Eck, a VP and global head of oncology medical sciences at Astellas.