Johns Hopkins Gazette | April 13, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 13, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 30
Winners of JHU Business Plan Competition Announced

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Three siblings honoring the legacy of their father and a half dozen engineering students who set their sights on improving outcomes of abdominal surgery made the winning pitches at the finals of the 10th annual Johns Hopkins University Business Plan Competition.

The event, hosted by the Center for Leadership Education, this year attracted 42 team entries in two categories: general business, and biotechnology/medical devices and technology. The teams came from the Carey Business School, SAIS and the schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Medicine and Public Health.

Last month, the judges whittled down the original field of 42 teams to 26, which competed in the semifinals on March 27.

For the finals on April 3, the remaining 12 teams went before a judging panel of high-ranking industry professionals, many of whom are alumni or friends of the university.

The first-place winner in each category received $5,000 and access to professional services to assist in launching his or her business. The second-place winner was handed $3,000, and the third- place winner, $1,000.

In the general business category, first place went to Tendix, a team of three brothers who impressed the judges with their technology-driven company formed to develop and market a novel expansion chamber for internal combustion engines. The company's Internally Radiating Impulse Structure, or IRIS, design has the potential to double the efficiency of traditional internal combustion engines and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The concept was conceived by Corban Tillemann-Dick and his father, Timber Dick, who died last year in an automobile accident. Feeling the technology had huge market potential, the family members decided to carry on their father's work.

"We all wanted to make Dad's legacy a reality," said Corban, a senior economics major in Arts and Sciences. The team consisted of Corban and brothers Levi and Tomicah, both students at SAIS and contributors to the development of the IRIS technology. (Two other siblings are also part of the Johns Hopkins family: Liberty, a senior majoring in the history of science and technology in Arts and Sciences, and Charity, who received a graduate degree in voice from Peabody in 2007.)

Second place in the general business category went to Nimble Notebooks, a School of Medicine team that designed a piece of software for hand-held portable devices that would allow scientists to take written, voice and photographic notes during an experiment. Care-Ease, a telemedicine company that could provide affordable health care services to customers in convenient locations, took third prize in this category.

In the biotechnology/medical devices and technology category, SurgyAid — a start-up medical device company that creates innovative technologies to improve efficiency, quality and effectiveness of health care — won the top prize. The company's flagship product, SurgyPack, is a device that offers a novel means of bowel packing for abdominal surgery, increasing the ease of operation while reducing costs and postoperative complications. SurgyPack was the brainchild of six Whiting School of Engineering undergraduates and graduate students.

Second place went to another Whiting School team, which crafted a business plan for NECO/Intuitive Medical Devices, a technology to allow urologists to more safely and effectively perform a minimally invasive tumor-removal procedure in an area of the kidney. Completing a sweep in this category, the Whiting School's Stem Cell Orthopedics landed third place for its SutureCell, a novel product that is designed to improve Achilles tendon reconstruction surgery.

In previous years, the business plan competition was open to only full-time undergraduates in the schools of Engineering and Arts and Sciences, but for 2009 organizers opened it up to graduate and part-time students from all the university's academic divisions.

The JHU Business Plan Competition provides students with an opportunity to test their entrepreneurial ideas. The contest was launched in 1998 by the Whiting School of Engineering's W.P. Carey Program in Entrepreneurship and Management and has grown significantly since its inception.

The Business Plan Competition committee is already looking for new ways to expand the event next year, such as the addition of a social entrepreneurship category and an increase in the prize money.


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