Product for women wins entrepreneurial contestWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.-- Women who suffer from urinary incontinence will benefit from the invention that took the $20,000 top prize in the 1999 Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue University.
The competition was started by Morgan in 1987 to help Purdue students develop an appreciation of the free market system and the role of the entrepreneur in a market economy. Morgan, a resident of Hudson, Ohio, and a Purdue alumnus, has started more than 50 companies. Six have become major corporations, including Morgan Adhesives, one of the world's largest makers of pressure-sensitive adhesives. He also is president of Basic Service Co., an idea-development firm, and he has written several books on entrepreneurism.
The 1999 competition was narrowed from 45 business plans to 19 in early February. Six of those 19 were selected for the final presentation. This year's total prize money jumped to $30,000 from $8,000 in 1998. Organizers hope to more than double the amount of prize money for next year.
The past two winning plans are in production and are successful small businesses.
Christoph Weismayer from Vienna, Austria, a Krannert School of Management graduate now studying medical sociology at Purdue, walked away with this year's top prize of $20,000 and free office space for one year in the Purdue Research Park, an incubator facility for start-up businesses.
The device was developed and patented by two Austrian physicians and has been clinically tested in Europe. The portable product, about the size of a hand-held calculator, measures the effectiveness of pelvic Kegel exercises and can be used in conjunction with medication to treat female patients with urinary incontinence. The Kegel exercise is done by contracting the pelvic muscles and holding the contraction for a certain amount of time.
"Millions of women suffer from incontinence as they age or after childbirth," Weismayer says. "Treatment is limited to Kegel exercises, medication, covering up the problem with adult diapers, or an invasive surgery. Our product goes to the root of the problem by strengthening the pelvic floor muscle that controls the flow of urine."
Weismayer says he will use the prize money to pursue U.S. distribution of the product.
The second prize of $5,000 was awarded to the "Computing Universe" team. The team of two graduate students, a professional staff member and two professors has developed a new software called "PUNCH" that allows users to run complex programs remotely on the Internet without having to download lots of extra applications and tools to their own hard drives.
The winner of the third-place $2,000 prize was "VLS Application," presented by an engineering grad student and an assistant professor. They developed a new software for scheduling and project management in the highway construction industry.
The competition is sponsored by Purdue's Schools of Management, Engineering and Science.
Judges were Donald W. Feddersen, Wellesley Hills, Mass., general partner, Charles River Associates and Bessemer Venture Partners; Harold H. Greenburg, Prescott, Ariz., president of Algren Builders; and Kelvin Pennington, Chicago, managing general partner, Penman Asset Management L.L.P.
Coordinator of the competition is Shailendra Raj Mehta, director, Krannert Entrepreneurship Initiative. To reach Mehta, or for more information about the competition, visit the entrepreneurship Web site.
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Christoph Weismayer, winner of the 1999 Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue, explains his product to the judges. The "Femate" is a portable exercise device to help women who suffer from urinary incontinence. (Photo by John Underwood, Purdue Center for Instructional Services)
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Morgancomp2