Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Students Top MBA Teams in National Business Plan Competition
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of stories highlighting the success of student business plan teams from the Bauer College’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in Spring 2014. Each year, WCE students work with the university’s Division of Research to develop commercialization plans for technologies developed at the university. Over the past 12 years, Bauer teams have had 21 podium finishes in national business plan competitions.
Two teams of undergraduate students from the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston recently placed first and third during the Giants Entrepreneurship Challenge at the University of North Dakota, topping MBA teams from Arizona State University, Stanford University and Purdue University.
Entrepreneurship seniors Rashmi Bhat, Corbin Bradford, Karey Gallagher, Jacob Hines and Alicia Ramirez won first place for their business plan for CARA, which uses nanotechnology developed by UH Associate Professor of Physics Seamus “Shay” Curran, director of the UH Institute for NanoEnergy, that revolutionizes the way wood is manufactured.
“When we first met with Dr. Shay and saw the product demo, we were sold on the product,” Bhat said. “We thought of so many applications this could be used on, and the wood industry has a very big market for this.”
CARA’s technology uses the reprogramming of atoms and molecules in order to make any surface water and liquid resistant, while also preventing mold and mildew.
“This manipulation of atoms allows CARA’s proprietary formulated coatings to bond with the individual fibers of wood, insulating it from the negative effects that water, insects and sun light can have on the wood fibers,” Bhat added. “This product is revolutionary in the prevention of wood degradation and significantly enhances the appearance of wood products and, more importantly, extending its life.”
A second Bauer team — entrepreneurship seniors Tim Arnaez, Paula Musa, Aliki Thanos, Ariana Thrasher and Chris Wick — partnered with Dr. Luca Pollonini, an assistant research professor for the UH Center for Future Health, and Dr. Scott Paranzynski, a former NASA astronaut who is now director of the University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Polar Medical Operations, on Oxiginne, LLC. They crafted a business plan for a medical device company that decreases the failure rate of full-thickness skin grafts.
“My team was drawn to the Perfusion Mapping Device because of the opportunity to decrease the failure of skin grafts,” Musa said. “The viability and potential that Oxiginne has in the market is huge, and we are so excited to be a part of it. Being in the heart of Houston and being surrounded with the world’s best medical center, this seemed like an opportunity that we would love to have.”
Oxiginne, LLC is the exclusive license holder of the patent-pending Perfusion Mapping Device that can benefit patients with skin cancer, burn victims and breast cancer mastectomies by decreasing the failure rate of full-thickness skin grafts.
“The technology is a Perfusion Mapping Device that uses Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) to monitor the oxygenation of tissue and blood flow underneath the skin,” Musa said. “No other device on the market uses NIRS technology and what makes it superior is that it’s non-invasive, maps a real-time 3D image of oxygenated blood flow through veins and arteries, and images an unheard of 22mm depth under the skin.”
Both teams credit their success to the partnerships created with the Division of Research, Bauer College and the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship.
“The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the Bauer College has shaped college students into leaders now and for the future. They have developed excellent work ethic and passion into every single student,” Musa said. “The marrying of UH Division of Research with business students who can monetize the product is a method that needs to continue. It has allowed Bauer students to interact with other departments, such as the College of Technology and the Valenti School of Communication. It is tying the college together into something bigger and better.”
By Amanda Sebesta