April 22, 2004
San Diego startup wins $147,000 life sciences biz plan competition
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. FFA Sciences, from San Diego, took the top prize of $50,000 yesterday (Wednesday, 4/21) in the second annual Purdue University Life Sciences Business Plan Competition, which offers one of the biggest purses among all university-based business plan competitions,
Alan Kleinfeld, the CEO of FFA Sciences, who made the winning presentation, said his company had already raised $6 million from a variety of sources and expects to have its product to market in two years.
Kleinfeld described the technology as a handheld diagnostic tool that he invented for heart attack victims. The device measures the elevation of free fatty acids in their bloodstream and enables caregivers to respond much more quickly than with current technology.
Second and third place went to Prosolia (pra-SO-leah) and Tienta Sciences, two Indiana companies that were formed to commercialize technology from Purdue's Aston Laboratories for Mass Spectrometry and the research of R. Graham Cooks, Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of chemistry, and his colleagues and graduate students.
Prosolia and Tienta Sciences are spinoffs from the Inproteo partnership among Eli Lilly, Purdue and Indiana University. Inproteo's mission is to commercialize the state's university research in analytical chemistry for improvements in health care. Both Purdue and IU have analytical chemistry departments regularly ranked among the top three in the nation.
FFA Sciences won the $50,000 top prize, plus $10,000 in legal and business services, in the $147,000 contest. Prosolia won $20,000 for second place plus $20,000 for being the top finishing Indiana team and $8,000 in legal and business services. Tienta Sciences won $15,000 and $6,000 in legal and business services. Tienta plans to locate a laboratory in the Purdue Research Park.
The lead sponsors of the business plan competition are Purdue's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and Roche Diagnostics Corp., located in Indianapolis, which contributed $100,000 in prize money. BioCrossroads and the Indiana Health Industry Forum contributed the $20,000 prize to the top Indiana finisher.
The other five finalists and their awards were:
TransPharmx, which took fourth place and won $7,500. The company, whose principals are from the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, has developed a low-cost gum patch for fast, time-released drug delivery, initially to be used in alleviating pain for cancer sufferers.
LightScanners, which placed fifth and won $5,000. The company, whose principals are from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has developed equipment using fluorescent dye, precise temperature control and high-resolution measurement to replace most of the current methods of DNA sequencing.
OyaGen, which placed sixth and won $2,500. The company, whose principals are from the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., is developing a drug that disables the HIV virus.
ThruSkin Technologies, which placed seventh and won $1,500. The company, whose principals are from the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., has developed an ointment that may be a superior delivery method for using glucosamine to treat osteoarthritis.
Optical Therapeutic Technologies, which placed eighth and won $1,500. The company, whose principals are from Purdue, uses folic acid and dyes to allow surgeons to see and identify certain active cancer tumors.
Kevin Boscacci, a Krannert School of Management MBA graduate, made the presentation for second-place finisher Prosolia, which is based in Indianapolis.
He described the company's technology as "a tool to improve the efficiency of drug discovery."
The presentations took place in a multimedia classroom at the Krannert School of Management's new Rawls Hall. The teams made 25-minute presentations and then fielded 20 minutes of questions from 11 judges that included venture capitalists, business school professors, life science company executives, attorneys, bankers and accountants.
The judges read the entries of the top 30 teams that submitted plans and ranked them using a numerical scoring system that took into account the sophistication of the technology and its business potential. This process was used to arrive at the eight finalists. A total of 72 teams from all areas of the country and Australia submitted initial plans.
"The judges had a tough job picking a winner," said Don Blewett, associate director of Purdue's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. "Last year, the teams had great technologies. This year, the business plans were more focused, and the presentations were sharper."
Richard A. Cosier, director of the center for entrepreneurship and dean of the Krannert School of Management, said, "In just its second year, the Purdue Life Sciences Business Plan Competition has established itself as one of the top university-sponsored competitions anywhere.
"Not only does the prize money rank ours among the top business plan competitions, but also the quality of the plans and presentations from research universities from all over the country make the point that Purdue and Indiana are good places to do business in the life sciences and biotechnology."
Indianapolis-based law firm Baker & Daniels and its health technologies consulting affiliate Aventor contributed $10,000 to support the competition and $12,000 in services to the top three finishers. Clifton Gunderson LLP, a national accounting firm with an office in Indianapolis, contributed $5,000 to support the competition and $12,000 in services to the top three finishers.
The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue seeks to bring together existing entrepreneurial efforts on campus, including technology transfer activities and other entrepreneurial competitions, speakers and events. The center also serves as a resource for Purdue students to engage in discussions and applications of entrepreneurial philosophy and issues.
The Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is one of six major facilities planned for the $100 million Discovery Park complex, which includes the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the Bindley Bioscience Research Center, an e-enterprise center, a biomedical engineering building, and the Discovery Learning Center. Roche Diagnostics Corp. was the first corporate partner of Discovery Park.
Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Richard A. Cosier, (765) 494-4366, email@example.com
Don Blewett, (765) 494-4485, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wade Lange, Indiana Health Industry Forum, (317) 264-8552, email@example.com
Anne Shane, BioCrossroads, (317) 638-2440, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Kleinfeld, email@example.com
Kevin Boscacci, (317) 842-6480, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
A publication-quality photograph is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/+2004/blewett-lifescicomp2.jpg
Kevin Boscacci, a Krannert School of Management MBA graduate, makes the presentation for Prosolia that won second place at Purdue's second annual Life Sciences Business Plan Competition yesterday (Wednesday, 4/21). Prosolia, based in Indianapolis, won $20,000 for being the top Indiana entry in the competition, in addition to the $20,000 second prize and $8,000 in business services. Prosolia and third-place finisher, Tienta Sciences, both used technology developed in Purdue's Aston Laboratories for Mass Spectrometry. (Purdue University photo/David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/+2004/blewett-lifescicomp.jpg