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Rice University Business Plan Competition to Award $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize

Total Prizes at the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition to Exceed $800,000.

DFJ MercuryHOUSTON – (March 9, 2010) – Unique and marketable university spin-out technology will be the key to winning the new $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize at the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition, April 15-17, at Rice University.

The purpose of the DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize is to encourage the commercialization of university technologies, or those technologies developed by faculty, researchers, and/or students at universities.

To be considered a university spin-out, the business plan can be based on a start-up company that licenses technology from a single or multiple universities, and/or a company led by a student team from a university.

“As a university-based business plan competition, we are particularly pleased to see the utilization of university technology by Rice Business Plan Competition teams,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the hosts and organizers of the Rice Business Plan Competition. “So much valuable technology, developed by university students, professors and researchers, goes un-commercialized. Students working with university breakthroughs are a perfect scenario.”

The award is open to any industry or technology sector and teams from any university around the world will be considered. Members of the DFJ Mercury investment team will select the winner of this award. DFJ Mercury has been involved with the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship programs since the founding of the Rice Alliance in 1999. Dan Watkins, a Managing Director of DFJ Mercury, was also a co-founder of the Rice Alliance.

“Every year we see very promising ideas at this competition, being led by talented, high energy entrepreneurs. We were attracted to the idea of committing to seed one of the presenting companies” said Dan Watkins, Managing Director of DFJ Mercury. “Many of our top performing portfolio companies are university spin-outs, specifically where DFJ Mercury was the seed investor, so we view this as a real investment opportunity rather than a prize or grant.”

The winner of the $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Award will be announced at the Rice University Business Plan Competition Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, April 17, 2010 at the InterContinental Houston Hotel by representatives from DFJ Mercury.

About DFJ Mercury
DFJ Mercury is a Houston-based venture capital firm focusing on seed and early-stage investments in the IT, advanced materials and bioscience sectors. DFJ Mercury targets start-ups emanating out of Texas and regional tech clusters in the Mid- and Southwest. The firm has a particular focus on university spin-outs and incubation, often investing prior to a business plan or management team being formed. DFJ Mercury is a partner in the DFJ Global Network of venture capital funds.

About the Rice University Business Plan Competition
The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s largest and richest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship which is Rice University's flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship.

This is the 10th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $800,000 in cash and prizes in 2009.

In 2010, intents to compete increased to nearly 420 teams from around the world from 340 the previous year. More than 120 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition. Two hundred plus venture capitalists and other investors from around the country volunteer their time to judge the competition, with more than half of the judges coming from the investment sector. More than 85 past competitors have gone on to successfully launch their business, including 30 of the 36 teams from the 2008 competition. In total, past competitors have raised more than $215 million in funding.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s nationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies. It was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

Since inception, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 start-ups which have raised more than half-a-billion dollars in early-stage capital. More than 750 companies have presented at the 115+ programs hosted by the Rice Alliance.

Media Contact:
Mary Lynn Fernau  
Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship
713-348-5374