Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC)

By Jeff Falk

Vita Inclinata Technologies from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, emerged as the top startup company Saturday in the 2019 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. The annual event is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition, and this year’s award total was a record $2.9 million.

$350,000 GOOSE Society Investment Grand Prize – Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Selected by 300 judges from the investment sector as representing the best investment opportunity and taking home nearly $700,000 in cash and prizes, Vita bested 41 other competitors hailing from some of the world’s top universities. Vita is a startup developing critical technology for sling-load and rescue helicopter operations. Vita’s goal is to eliminate the potentially deadly swing of suspended loads.

Significant new prizes this year and the teams that won them include:

* $350,000 GOOSE Society Investment Grand Prize – Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

* $200,000 OWL Investment Group Prize – Zilper Trenchless, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* $200,000 OWL Investment Group Prize – Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

* $300,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize – Resonado, University of Notre Dame.

* $200,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize – Rhaeos, Northwestern University.

* $200,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize – spotLESS Materials, Penn State University.

* $125,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize – CataLight, University of Waterloo.

* $100,000 GOOSE Society Investment Prize – BrewBike, Northwestern University and University of Chicago.

* $125,000 Finger Interests, Anderson Family Fund, Greg Novak & Tracy Druce Second-Place Investment Prize – Resonado, University of Notre Dame.

* $100,000 Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize – Rhaeos, Northwestern University.

* $100,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize – spotLESS Materials, Penn State University.

* $125,000 Houston Angel Network Investment Prize – Zilper Trenchless, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* $100,000 The Artemis Fund Investment Prize – Zilper Trenchless, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* $100,000 The HALO Fund Investment Prize – Rhaeos, Northwestern University.

* $75,000 NASA Space Exploration Innovation Cash Award(s) – NABACO, Texas State University.

* $25,000 Southwest National Pediatric Device Prize – MiVUE, UCLA.

* $25,000 Southwest National Pediatric Device Price – Rhaeos, Northwestern University.

* $15,000 Women’s Health and Wellness Prize – Embryonic, University of California, Irvine.

* $15,000 Women’s Health and Wellness Prize – CataLight, University of Waterloo.

* $50,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize – spotLESS Materials, Penn State University.

* $10,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize – Treyetech, Johns Hopkins University.

* $25,000 Texas Business Hall of Fame Best of Texas Prize – NABACO, Texas State University.

* $25,000 TMCx Life Science Accelerator Prize – Rhaeos, Northwestern University.

* $25,000 Pearland Economic Development Spirit of Entrepreneurship Prize – LilySpec, Rice University.

* $20,000 JLABS@TMC Life Science Startup Prize – Treyetech, Johns Hopkins University.

* $20,000 OFW Law FDA Regulatory Strategy Prize – Calcium Solutions, University of Michigan.

* $15,000 Polsinelli Tech Investment Prize – Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

* $15,000 Polsinelli Energy Technology Investment Prize – Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

* $10,000 The Eagle Investors Prize – Zilper Trenchless, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

* $10,000 Poorna Uppala – Women Empowerment Prize – spotLESS Materials, Penn State University.

* $10,000 Insperity Startup Culture Prize – Formally, Brown University.

* $6,500 Edward H. Molter Memorial Prize for Top Wildcard Team – BrewBike, Northwestern University and University of Chicago.

* $3,000 Palo Alto Software Best LivePitch Prize – RagnaRock Geo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

* $3,000 Jones Partners “The Connector” Prize – Tutorfly, UCLA.

* $1,000 Mercury Fund – LilySpec, Rice University.

* $1,000 Orrick Awards Banquet Company Showcase Prize – LilySpec, Rice University.

Symphony from the University of Mumbai won the $5,000 online People’s Choice Competition sponsored by Accenture. The winner was determined by a record-setting 22,000 people who voted for their favorite team via a Facebook poll.

The prizes were presented Saturday night at a banquet at the Westin Galleria that concluded the three-day event, which began April 4.

This year’s competitors were among the most diverse in the history of the competition and came from top universities around the globe, according to Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance. The teams were chosen from more than 300 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences, information technology/web/mobile, energy/clean technology/sustainability and tech innovation. Each team made its case in 15-minute investment pitches and a rapid-fire 60-second elevator-pitch contest on the first night of the competition.

The seven finalists based on the judges’ overall scores in the 2019 RBPC were:

Vita Inclinata Technologies, Mitchell Hamline School of Law — grand prize and individual prizes with a total value of nearly $700,000. 

The grand prize includes:

  • $350,000-plus Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas. 
  • Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000).
  • Business plan software provided by Palo Alto Software.
  • Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York.

Resonado, University of Notre Dame — $125,000 second-place prize and a total of more than $300,000 in prizes.
Resonado’s goal is to redefine the shape of sound with its patented Flat Core Speaker Technology.

spotLESS Materials, Penn State University — third place and more than $360,000 in total prizes.

spotLESS Materials is developing a robust bio-inspired, liquid-, sludge- and bacteria-repellent coating that can be applied in minutes in ambient conditions.

Rhaeos, Northwestern University — fourth place and more than $450,000 in total prizes.

Rhaeos is a wireless, wearable flow sensor designed to revolutionize the management of neurosurgical patients with hydrocephalus.

Zilper Trenchless, Massachusetts Institute of Technology — fifth place and more than $435,000 in total prizes.

Zilper Trenchless is working to significantly reduce the cost of infrastructure by developing new technologies related to water pipeline construction.

BrewBike, Northwestern University and University of Chicago — sixth place and more than $100,000 in total prizes.

BrewBike is working to provide college communities with delicious coffee in the most convenient ways.

CataLight, University of Waterloo — seventh place and more than $140,000 in individual prizes.

CataLight is a new kind of water filter with the goal of giving families in developing communities safe drinking water.

The top seven finalists will also receive:

  • Station Houston Engine of Innovation Prize
  • The Cannon Work Space Prize
  • WeWork Work Space Prize

More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition.

Since the RBPC’s inception in 2001, when nine teams competed for $10,000, more than 229 competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today or have successfully sold their ventures. Past competitors have raised nearly $2.3 billion in funding and created more than 3,000 new jobs.

For more information about the RBPC, visit www.rbpc.rice.edu.