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UM Zell Lurie Institute Names First Round Winners In Michigan Business Challenge

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The University of Michigan central campus.

The University of Michigan central campus.

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Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business announced 18 teams will advance to the second round of the annual Michigan Business Challenge.

The multi-round business plan competition attracted nearly 70 teams of students from across UM’s 19 schools and colleges.

“The Michigan Business Challenge is one of several programs the Zell Lurie Institute runs that provides student entrepreneurs with hands-on experience that can tee them up for long term success,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “Regardless of the outcome, the tools and skills gained during the course of the Challenge provide students with the greatest benefit as they work to advance their businesses to the next level.”

The competition will award more than $60,000 in total cash prizes to student teams in 2014, building on the more than $400,000 already awarded to over 100 teams in the past decade. Many teams earn enough seed funding in the Michigan Business Challenge and in subsequent business plan competitions to fuel a successful launch and attract sizable seed and Series A investments.

Advanced semi-conductor company Ambiq Micro is an example. After winning the Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business at the Michigan Business Challenge in 2010, the company went on to receive a $250,000 investment prize as the first place winner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco’s co-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition for university and business school students. Through its connection with the University, it also received an early investment from the student-run Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund (formerly known as the Frankel Fund). Today, the company has received more than $10.5 million in funding, and most recently, was named to Poets & Quants’ Top 100 MBA Startups ranking.

All participating teams were given the opportunity to deliver a three-minute pitch to a panel of judges followed by three minutes to answer questions on Friday, Dec. 6. Judges then selected the 18 most-promising teams that will advance to the next round. These diverse and promising business concepts are:

* Bar2Bar Transportation — Mobile app that allows users to schedule and pay for rides on party buses
* Cribspot — Comprehensive rental site that helps students find tailored off-campus housing options
* eV Score — Smartphone app for potential electric vehicle purchasers to assess their travel patterns and evaluate how existing models meet these needs
* Flipsi — Reusable drinking bottle that flips completely inside out to facilitate easier cleaning
* FrostGear — Protective motorcycle gear with built-in thermoelectric cooling powered by the motorcycle’s electrical system
* Heartwear — Heart monitoring smart shirt that picks up signals of an imminent cardiac arrest
* Keravnos Energy — Installing heavy duty power electronics and battery storage units in commercial buildings for fast-charging services to electric vehicle drivers and reduced building utility costs
* Lab Compass — Cloud-based software enabling more efficient collection, storage and sharing of sensitive healthcare data used in medical research
* LoopHope — Ethical apparel online retail site that assists ethical producers in optimizing their supply chains and educates consumers to encourage behavioral changes
* MicroLeap Technologies — Generates usable electricity utilizing energy harvesting technology
* Motor City Rocket Shop — Small satellites to be used for collection of data from space in a variety of commercial applications
* Movellus Circuits — Revolutionary clock generator designs for embedded processors
* MyDermPortal — Web-based app for dermatologists to provide follow-up treatment via the internet for the most common diagnoses in significantly less time than an in person visit
* Network Finance — Peer-to-peer lending platform focused on the graduate student market
* pEEG — A multi-faceted concussion diagnostic
* Stay Connected — Mobile apps that automatically refines a user’s professional network into a manageable group of important contacts and suggests relevant reasons to stay in touch
* Trip7s — Website and mobile app that allows users to search for flights based on region and desired experience rather than specific destination
* VeritaPharm — System of kiosks for pharmacists and consumers to check the authenticity of their prescription drugs via a molecular barcode in each drug

During this next phase, teams must submit a seven-page market and financial assessment that describes the market need or pain, market size and preliminary financial assessment, and then present their findings in a seven-minute presentation to the judges. Up to 10 teams will be chosen during Round 2 of the challenge Jan. 24 to advance to the semi-finals and finals on Feb. 21.

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