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Rice University Team Wins First Place in Thailand Business Plan Competition

Winning company, based on Rice University technology, headed by Rice engineering and business grad students.
 
HOUSTON – (March 3, 2010) – The Rice University business plan team, Rebellion Photonics, won first place in the mai Bangkok Business Challenge, hosted by the Sasin Business School at Chulalongkorn University, Feb. 25-27.  The team also won “Best Presentation” in their competitive group. Sixteen teams from around the world were invited to present at the competition and the top six presented in the final round.  Rice was the only school from the United States that was selected to present at the competition; the other semi-finalist teams came from Europe, Australia, and Asia.
 
“Coupled with a top five ranking in graduate entrepreneurship in the U.S., this business plan competition win reflects both our ability to excel on a global scale, and our collaborative culture across the Rice University campus,” said Bill Glick, dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business. “Winning ‘Best Presentation’ is a textbook example of the school’s solid commitment to teaching communication and presentation skills.”
 
Rebellion Photonics is commercializing a revolution in hyperspectral imaging that allows for real-time large format portable chemical detection for use in a variety of industries, such as security, oil exploration, quality control and research.   
 
“This is huge for us,” said Robert Kester, chief operating officer of Rebellion Photonics. “I think this experience validated our technology as well as our business plan moving forward. We are really excited about the opportunities this opens up for us.”
 
The business plan is based on a Rice University technology developed out of Dr. Tomasz Tkaczyk’s lab. Robert Kester, a bioengineering Ph.D. student at the Brown School of Engineering working with Tkaczyk is the company COO, and Jones Graduate School of Business MBA student Allison Lami will serve as CEO. Lami brought on three additional MBA students: Tadzia GrandPré, Frances Parker and Anne Robin to compete in the competition.
 
“This is a great example of what students from the School of Engineering and the Jones School can accomplish when they work together and call on the expertise of the Rice Alliance,” said Sallie Keller, dean of the Brown School of Engineering. “We are working toward more of these collaborations in the future and I'm sure they will result, not only in competition success for our students, but in innovations that fuel new, successful businesses.”
 
“I believe this is the first time a Rice University team has won first place in a major business plan competition,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, organizers and hosts of the Rice Business Plan Competition. “Rebellion Photonics will represent Rice at the Rice Business Plan Competition in April. Prior to that, they have been selected to compete in the WBT University Technology Commercialization Competition as well as the Venture Challenge at San Diego State University.   Both of these competitions  will help them prepare for the Rice Business Plan Competition, which is the world’s richest and largest competition with more than  $800,000 in cash and prizes.”
 
Rebellion Photonics won $10,000 in cash at the Thailand competition to further their business. Lami and Kester are currently finalizing the agreement with Rice University Office of Technology Transfer to license the technology. They hope to develop it to be used in a variety of applications.   
 
The team was mentored over the past year by Tom Kraft, formerly Director of Client Services at the Houston Technology Center (HTC).   The team leader, Allison Lami, has been serving as an HTC intern and their company, Rebellion Photonics, is now a candidate company of the HTC. Dennis Murphree, instructor of the Jones Graduate School creative entrepreneurship class and one of the founders of the Rice Business Plan Competition, also helped coach the team along with his class co-instructor Brain Hoogendam. The team was supported by the Jones Partners, corporate supporters of the Jones School, with aid for travel expenses to the Thailand competition.