Finalists selected for Purdue's 27th annual Burton Morgan Business Plan Competition

February 12, 2014  


Physics doctoral student Ran An answers questions from judges during the 2013 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition. (Purdue University photo). Download Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Five Purdue University teams have been selected as finalists in separate divisions for undergraduate and graduate students to make formal pitches next week during the $100,000 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition.

The Discovery Park event, now in its 27th year, is Tuesday (Feb. 18) at Purdue University's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121.

The Gold Division is open to all graduate and undergraduate student teams from any discipline. The winner from among the five Gold Division finalists will receive a $30,000 top prize. In the Black Division, five undergraduate teams will compete for the $20,000 top prize, said Joseph Pekny, interim director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

"This annual business plan competition, the flagship event for the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, draws our best students with the brightest business ideas from all across campus. And this year is no exception," Pekny said. "I don't envy the task that awaits our judges with the impressive lineup of finalists in both divisions."

The five teams from the Gold Division are:

* Bearing Analytics: This company is designed to offer industrial system owners more accurate rotating equipment monitoring and failure prediction solution, significantly improving their ability to predict and avoid machine failures, downtime and business interruption than can significantly affect the bottom line in most industries. 

* SensorHound Innovations LLC: This company offers software-based solutions designed to automate monitoring and diagnostics of software defects in Networks of Sensors (NoS), enhancing reliability and security while reducing operating costs of deployed NoS.

* Coffee Coals: This company is developing a way to convert used coffee grounds into premium charcoal briquettes, which are designed to burn as long and hot as traditional grilling charcoal but with a uniquely smooth earth-toned scent. 

* Vibronix: This company concept offers a core technology, intravascular photo acoustic (IVPA) system, aimed at providing comprehensive and accurate assessment of vulnerable plaque in the artery wall for diagnosing cardiovascular disease, guiding treatment, and testing the efficacy of cardiovascular therapeutics. 

* EcoBreeze - Innovate Cooling: This company is developing a cooling technology that uses a unique piezoelectric material and manipulates the resonance properties for devices with more than 80 percent energy use reduction, up to 60 percent comparable function size reduction and 50 percent cost savings based on design and function.

In the Black Division for undergraduate students, the five finalists are:

* Signature Settings: This online retail plastic-ware company is offering consumers the ability to add personal messages, upload logos and choose from its own library artwork for special events and celebrations.

* DSDNet: This online ordering platform for retail distributors would give small retailers and distributors optimization software to be more efficient and to compete with major retailers.

* FundSponge: This nonprofit effort would assist student club fundraising efforts in connecting with online retailers.

* ExDie Cleaning Technologies: This company is developing what it calls a safe, efficient and inexpensive method for removing the remaining material of extrusions from steel extrusion dies. The method would replace an expensive hazardous chemical process now used by the industry. 

* Atlas Energy Systems: This company is developing an energy conversion technology in which energy associated with the natural decay of radioactive isotopes is harnessed through a gas ionization process and applied to a load for direct usable power.

Sponsors for this year's competition are the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Krannert School of Management and the Anvil, Purdue's entrepreneurial incubator.

Providing in-kind services to the competition's top finishers are the Purdue Foundry and Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller, which has provided scholarship funding for Purdue's Certificate of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

"This event aligns perfectly with Purdue's efforts to support our robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and involve students from every Purdue college and department," said Candiss Vibbert, associate director for the Discovery Park Office of Engagement.

"As one of the longest running business plan competitions in the nation, it also creates a strong networking opportunity for positioning our student innovators who are doing pioneering research that may lead to a startup venture or to a market opportunity."

In 2013, Animated Dynamics Inc. won the Gold Division for its efforts to commercialize a new laboratory approach for helping select the best anticancer drugs for patients. The company is led by physics doctoral student Ran An and Purdue physics professors David Nolte and John Turek.

NanoBio Interface Systems won the Black Division. The nanotechnology-based in vitro diagnostics company, which is advancing a novel technique for testing blood sugar levels, is led by Purdue communications and philosophy major Aaron Trembath.

The Purdue entrepreneurship competition started in 1987 with an endowment gift from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, which also funded the $7 million, 31,000-square-foot Center for Entrepreneurship in Discovery Park.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, through its sponsored initiatives and partnerships - including the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Realization Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and business plan competitions - aims to stimulate entrepreneurship at Purdue and serves as a state, regional and national resource.

A primary initiative of the Discovery Park center is the Deliberate Innovation for Faculty, or DIFF program, which was launched in January year to provide mentoring for Purdue innovators who have an interest in translating their inventions to the public through commercialization, collaboration or entrepreneurship.

The building also houses the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub that opened in July to provide assistance in areas such as product ideation and market analysis as well as business-plan development, alumni and faculty mentoring, and help in finding funding.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Sources: Joseph Pekny, 765-494-1335,

Candiss Vibbert, 765-494-9404,

Bambrah Miller, 765-494-1335,

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