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2008 Rice Business Plan Competition is Largest and Richest in the World

The Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) and the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University will again be the largest and richest, graduate-level competition in the world with more than $600,000 in prizes and 36 teams from around the globe. The 2008 RBPC nearly doubled prize money from last year’s competition prizes of $345,000 and tripled the number of applicants, from 75 to 225, with a large portion coming from international teams.
 
THE COMPETITION

 
The April 3-5, competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience and fine tune their business plans and pitches to be able to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product.
 
Judges consist of successful entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders, 160 in all, who judge the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges are asked to rank the presentations based on which company they would most likely invest.
 
More than 225 teams have already applied for consideration and only 36 teams will be selected to compete.  Past competitors have included many of the country’s most prestigious universities including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Wharton, Northwestern, Chicago, USC, Rice, Texas, and Texas A&M. Teams in the areas of life sciences – including medical devices, drug development and diagnostics, information technology and web 2.0, energy and clean technology, sustainability and advanced materials or robotics compete for prizes in the elevator pitch and business plan presentation. The competition is for new, independent ventures, developed by graduate-level students, with a company in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages.
 
“Great ideas are just that - Great,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance. “But, taking that novel idea ensuring it holds a competitive advantage in the market, conducting market research and identifying opportunities, demonstrating management capability, financial understanding and investment potential are what develop that great idea into a venture and hopefully a financially-successful business.”
 
THE PRIZES

 
The Grand Prize winner of the business plan competition will receive a package valued at up to $325,000 in total prizes, including a $125,000 equity investment from The Goose Society of Texas, potentially one of two new $100,000 prizes given by the Greater Houston Partnership’s  Opportunity HoustonSM, $20,000 in cash sponsored by Shell and Kenda Capital, as well as $80,000 in incubation and other services.
 
The first of the $100,000 Opportunity HoustonSM prizes will be awarded to the company with the best life science technology business plan.  The second $100,000 prize will go to the team with the top business plan in one of the following four economic sectors: energy (including clean technology) and petrochemicals, information technology, aviation and aerospace, or nanotechnology.  These awards will provide seed funding to launch these companies in the Houston region.
 
Two other teams will receive $20,000 cash awards. The $20,000 Dow Sustainability Award is given to the best plan to address world challenges for affordable housing, food, clean water, health & safety, and alternative/sustainable energy. The $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Science Award acknowledges the best life science plan with application in earth and space. Winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday night, April 5, 2008 at the Intercontinental Hotel.