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Chicago Booth Announces 2012 Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge Winners

May 25, 2012

Mouse House Takes Top Prize at 16th Annual Business Competition; Winners Receive $225,000 in Cash Prizes and Business Services

Chicago (May 25, 2012) – The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and its Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship are pleased to announce the winners of the 16th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, the school’s premier start-up competition.

The NVC spans the full academic year and helps students launch and run new businesses. In the fall, more than 100 teams applied to the program, which culminated in the day-long finals competition on May 24. The winning teams received prizes in the form of cash, legal services, professional consulting, and office space in the ARCH Venture Partners New Business Incubator, housed within the Polsky Center. This year’s winners, chosen from a group of 10 finalists, were awarded $75,000 in cash prizes and business services valued at more than $150,000:

  • MouseHouse, which won the first place prize of $30,000. The team is developing an iPad and web platform that allows researchers in laboratories and institutions to collaborate on animal experiments, breeding, and health management.
  • ArborVita Associates placed second and received a $15,000 prize. AVA is a biotechnology company that has developed a simpler, faster, and cheaper way to modify DNA using proprietary and patented enzyme called DRAP (Drosophila Recombination-Associated Protein).
  • BloomNation placed third and received $10,000. BloomNation allows florists across the country to upload and sell their unique designs at their desired prices onto a single marketplace.
  • Three teams tied for fourth place and each received $4,000: Aquarius Biotechnologies, which uses a proprietary drug delivery technology called cochleate technology, that allows for oral delivery of drugs; GradMags, a cross media digital publishing platform service for higher education and non-profit organizations; and Site Diagnostics, a biotechnology company focused on veterinary diagnostic applications using a gel-drop biochip technology licensed from Argonne National Labs.

This year’s other finalists include Drink Different, an alcoholic cider beverage for the Polish market; Output Medical, which seeks to provide a more accurate way of measuring key body fluids using a novel technological approach involving electric sensors; SH2, which provides innovative solutions in media advertising for points of sale marketing; and Zipfit, a virtual personal shopper for jeans. These teams each received $2,000 in seed funding.

“We congratulate all of the teams that participated in the 2012 New Venture Challenge – this was truly our best year ever,” said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The quality of these start-ups is outstanding, and they represent a wide range of industries. I look forward to seeing many NVC companies grow into successful businesses.”

Since its launch in 1996, the NVC has awarded more than $825,000 in cash prizes, plus more than $2M in business services. Over the past 16 years, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge has helped launch more than 75 companies, which have gone on to raise over $242 million in funding and have created more than 1,000 jobs. NVC companies include Agile Diagnosis, Alltution, BenchPrep, Braintree, brightroom, Bump, Future Simple, GrubHub, InContext Solutions, and MedSpeed, among others.

About the New Venture Challenge
The NVC process includes two phases and a finals competition. During the fall, students from Chicago Booth pitch business ideas, collaborate, and form teams. In early February, student teams submit feasibility summaries about their proposed ventures, and a number of teams are then selected to advance to the second phase, where they develop their ideas into full business plans with instructor guidance and critique from venture capitalists, private investors, and established entrepreneurs. Finalist teams are selected to present their start-up at the finals competition before a world-class panel of investors and entrepreneurs, who determine the winners.

The NVC expanded globally in 2008 to allow Executive MBA students and alumni from around the world to participate. The Global NVC track is designed to fit the needs of students in disparate locations by engaging alumni and industry experts throughout the world to assist in marketing, coaching, and individual mentoring. Judging sessions for Global NVC semi-finalists take place in London and Singapore, with finalists presenting before a panel of judges in Chicago in March.

In 2010, the NVC curriculum was expanded through an analogous challenge focused on new social ventures. Modeled after the traditional NVC, the Social NVC spans several months, allowing students to conceptualize, develop, and launch new social ventures through classroom instruction, mentorship, and coaching. Qualifying companies and organizations can be structured either as for-profits or nonprofits but must show a focus on social impact as well as a model for financial sustainability—either through profits, earned income, philanthropy, government aid, or some combination thereof. Finals for the Social NVC will be held on May 30, 2012.

About the Polsky Center
The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship is the leading resource for University of Chicago students and alumni as they pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and private equity careers. The center supports entrepreneurial development through its cutting-edge curriculum, innovative hands-on learning experiences, leading faculty research, conferences, and community and global outreach programs. Entrepreneurship is the second largest concentration at Chicago Booth, and, with an impressive growing network of students and alumni as entrepreneurs, the Polsky Center is dedicated to expanding and capitalizing on this vibrant and active sector of our economy. For more information, visit the Polsky Center website.

About the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Chicago Booth is one of the leading business schools in the world The school’s faculty incudes many renowned scholars and its graduates include many business leaders across the U.S. and worldwide. The Chicago Approach to Management Education is distinguished by how it leverages fundamental knowledge, its rigor, and its practical application to business challenges. Chicago Booth offers a full-time M.B.A. program, an evening M.B.A. program, a weekend M.B.A. program and an executive M.B.A. program in Chicago, London and Singapore. The school also offers a Ph.D. program, open enrollment executive education and custom corporate education. For more information, visit the Chicago Booth website.