There seems to be a canyon-wide disconnect between the ivory towers of theoretical academia and the reality of industry and commercial applications. The Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) at Boston University is aiming to bridge that gap with its 7th Annual Business Plan Competition. Business plan competitions have come a LONG way in the past 20 years.
IDEC announced the 4 finalists yesterday…clearly they are doing it for the credentials and connectivity to the angel-investor network because the first place prize of $30 grand wouldn't even cover a year's rent! What I found intriguing is that all 4 are centered on the Health and Wellness segment, which is outpacing the economy as the leading edge of the Boomers dip into 60. Here's a snapshot of the Final 4:
LHASA software is designed specifically to enhance productivity and reduce R&D costs within the Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Chemical sectors. Basically it provides computer-assisted synthetic analysis as well as toxicology predictions. They are getting some decent ink and ratings within the very close-knit pharmaceutical community.
My recommendation as a marketer would be to change their name before they launch…with all the dog lovers in this country, they'll never get a top 10 Google ranking!
The next finalist, Fifth Base is aiming for a chunk of the $10billion gene therapy market. Gene therapy inserts gene's into an individual's cells and tissues to treat disease. If you can get past the ethical and moral playground of genetically altered material being tested in human subjects…the category should continue to grow. Gene therapy has the additional happy bonus of being particularly effective with hard-to-treat diseases like: Sickle Cell, Melanoma and Cystic Fibrosis.
Their name is a play on normal DNA, that is normally made up of four chemical bases, which go by the letters A, T, C, and G. The 'fifth base' of DNA is generated after the genetic information is replicated. Importantly, whereas all DNA is replicated similarly in every tissue, the 'fifth base' gives each cell in the body its unique identity making it incredibly important to the future of medicine.
The third finalist is ClimbWell, a line of indoor climbing and alternative fitness programs in the Northeast. This one is a head-scratcher. I get that people are seeking fresh ways to exercise, but the idea of inserting climbing walls and other 'alternative' workouts isn't new. So this business plan must be phenomenal…or the judges don't get out too often.
Finally there is Oligomerix, a biopharmaceutical company targeting Alzheimers and other neurogenerative disorders. Finding a cure for Alzheimers is the golden ticket for the pharma/biotech/biopharm category. This company has the right credentials to get it done: the President & Ceo, James Moe, has a Ph.D. AND MBA for starters. They are also doing the right thing for financing with both VC and government coin.
The winner will be announced on April 11th. Which one would you choose?