Plan to advance wound care treatment takes top prize in Burrill competition

April 26, 2010

by Melissa Anderson

A plan to develop advanced materials for wound care and surgical applications presented by Ankit Agarwal, a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Postdoctoral Fellow in Biomedical Engineering, and Umang Nagpal, a PhD Chemical Engineering,  took the top prize at the 2010 G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition.

Agarwal and Nagpal developed a business plan for taking UW technology for making ultra-thin polymers loaded with silver nanoparticles to market. The company’s silver collagen dressings would prevent infections, improve healing, and reduce treatment costs for people with burns and chronic wounds. Agarwal was featured in BusinessWeek as one of “The Next Hot Entrepreneurs: Science PhDs.”

From social media software firms and biofuels to high-tech wound care and eco-friendly apparel, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursued solutions to everyday problems as part of the annual business plan competition at the Wisconsin School of Business. Forty-two students and a record number of 20 teams presented their original business plans on Friday, April 23, in Grainger Hall for a shot at $23,250 in prize money.

New this year, the top-placing team in a technology, engineering, medical device or computer science area was eligible for a bonus award: free office space for one year in the new University Research Park Metro Innovation Center, a prize worth $15,000. The Department of Financial Instititions created another new award of $1,000 prize for what the judges deemed an “Investment Ready” plan. This year's winners were:

1st Place: im-Bed Biosciences ($10k)
2nd Place: Sector67 ($7k)
3rd Place: ProPov ($4k)
4th Place: MycoLogyx LLC ($1k)
Metro Innovation Ctr.: Student Spill
“Investment-ready”: Student Spill ($1k)
Green Venture: Buffalo Shoals ($1k)
Mini-prize: im-Bed Biosciences ($250)

Eligible entries included both high-technology businesses and ideas for companies where technology doesn’t play a vital role. This year, eight teams entered social media and open source software solutions firms—a substantial increase over last year. To learn more about the student business plans, click here.

“Entrepreneurship leads to innovation—it answers questions and provides solutions,” says Anne Miner, professor of Management and Human Resources at the Wisconsin School of Business and faculty director of the competition. “This event provides students the opportunity to come together and create answers to society’s most challenging problems. It is incredibly exciting to see these young minds develop the next generation of innovative business ideas.”

Student presentations were held throughout the day. Craig Andler (MBA, ‘03), vice president of business eevelopment at start-up Alice.com, shared his own entrepreneurial journey with participants and discussed the importance of being passionate and practical when building a new firm. Andler joined Alice.com after working at Madison start-up Jellyfish, sold to Microsoft in 2007.

Judges for the 2010 G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition included: John Neis, partner of Venture Investors; Lorrie Heinemann, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and chair of the Wisconsin Angel Network’s Advisory Committee; Meru Thakur, an angel investor at Silicon Pastures; and, Dick Wilkey, founder and president of Fisher-Barton.

Since its inception in 1998, more than 350 students have participated in the competition while thousands have attended skill-building seminars to develop their business planning expertise. BusinessWeek and other national media have recognized competition alumni for their successes.

The competition is named for sponsor G. Steven Burrill, a long-time supporter of student innovation and entrepreneurship. Burrill is CEO of Burrill & Company, a life sciences merchant bank with more than $950 million under management. He earned a BBA degree from the Wisconsin School of Business in 1966.