seal  Purdue News

October 29, 2003

Purdue, Roche seek entrants in $147,000 life sciences business plan competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A nationwide entrepreneurial competition at Purdue University will award total prizes of $147,000 for business plans that describe the path to market for products and technologies in the life sciences, biotechnology and biomedicine.

The second annual Purdue University Life Sciences Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and Roche Diagnostics Corp., will take place April 20-21 on Purdue's West Lafayette campus. Teams must submit an entry form and executive summary by Jan. 5.

Last year's winners
Download photo - caption below

"Our partnership with Roche and our associate sponsors resulted in a competitive and high-quality business plan competition last year," said Richard A. Cosier, director of the center for entrepreneurship and dean of Purdue's Krannert School of Management. "All of our sponsors are returning, and we expect this year's competition to be even better, allowing us to spotlight Indiana as a major player in the life sciences arena."

Founding sponsor Roche Diagnostics contributed $100,000 to the competition. Other sponsors for the 2004 contest are: Clifton Gunderson LLP, Aventor, Baker & Daniels, Indiana Health Industry Forum and BioCrossroads (formerly the Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative).

Martin Madaus, president and CEO for Roche Diagnostics, North America, said, "Roche is committed to strengthening life sciences here in Indiana, and working with a world-renowned university such as Purdue on a project like this enables us to advance the academic awareness and attention to the life sciences and bioresearch.

"The 2003 entries demonstrated creative thinking, passion and innovation, and this competition provides an avenue for recognition and business consideration. Roche encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in our people as well as in others in order to grow future business ideas and push the limits of ordinary thinking."

The top finisher in last year's competition was Iris AO, which uses the same technology as the Hubble telescope for early detection of eye diseases and has the potential to correct vision to 20/10. The company has set up an office in Berkeley, Calif.

Iris CEO Matt Campbell said, "We have six full-time employees and blue-chip customers. We're more mature than a seed company and are in the process of setting up first-round financing."

Last year's second-place finisher and top Indiana entry, Medical Reporting Solutions of Indianapolis, has filed four patents on its speech-recognition technology for medical databases since last year's competition.

CEO Dr. Patrick Jamieson said, "We used the competition prize money to further develop our product. The goal now is to get the product into production in six months."

Teams based at universities and colleges, research and teaching hospitals, and other academic institutions engaged in bioresearch are eligible to enter.

Teams may be fledgling enterprises seeking seed capital or those further along in the commercialization process, including firms that have received grants, venture capital or equity investments. There is no restriction on the number of members on teams, but teams are encouraged to include participants with business backgrounds or MBA students.

"There is a definite educational component to this competition," said Don Blewett, associate director of the center for entrepreneurship. "Last year we brought together researchers and MBA students, both at Purdue's Krannert School and other schools, with venture capitalist judges, senior corporate executives and business people. We attracted an impressive group of contestants. This year we expect an even better group."

Eight finalists will be chosen from the written business plan phase of the competition. Those teams will make 45-minute presentations to a panel of judges. First prize in the competition is $50,000, plus $10,000 in legal and business services; second prize is $20,000, plus $8,000 in legal and business services; third prize is $15,000, plus $6,000 in legal and business services; fourth prize is $7,500; fifth prize is $5,000; sixth prize is $2,500. There also is a $20,000 prize for the best plan and presentation by an Indiana-based team. Presentations, judging and awards presentations will take place on April 21, when teams also will have the opportunity to display their technologies and marketing materials.

"The winner of the competition will be chosen on the basis of solid commercial viability and how well the team has described it," Blewett said. "We also want to make this a networking opportunity through the technology display as well as a business plan competition. The other half of real-world success is talking and listening to both technical and business people."

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship brings 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 researchers to commercialize their discoveries and as the intellectual center of education on and discussion of entrepreneurial philosophy and issues.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is one five major centers planned for the $100 million Discovery Park complex, which includes the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, e-Enterprise Center and Discovery Learning Center.

Indianapolis is home to Roche Diagnostics' North American headquarters with 2,500 people on the Indianapolis campus serving a broad product portfolio and supplying a wide array of testing products and services to researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories worldwide.

Inquiries about the competition should be directed to Blewett at (765) 494-4485, The competition Web site is at

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Richard A. Cosier, (765) 494-4366,

Lori LeRoy, Roche Diagnostics corporate communication, (317) 521-7159,

Matthew Campbell, (510) 849-2375,

Patrick Jamieson, (317) 715-6381,

Don Blewett, (765) 494-4485,



Matthew Campbell, chief operating officer of Iris AO, makes the winning presentation at Purdue's inaugural Life Sciences Business Plan Competition in April 2003. Iris AO won the $50,000 top prize, plus $10,000 in legal and business services, in the $147,000 contest. The winning team was one of the eight finalists who made presentations during the competition, which was in the Purdue Memorial Union. (Purdue University file photo/John Underwood)

A publication-quality photograph is available at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page