Tech Wins First Round of Biotech Competition

A team of budding young entrepreneurs from Georgia Institute of Technology has won the first round in the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES), a British Government-sponsored academic business plan competition.

Two other U.S. teams and one Canadian team were also among the winners who will compete in the next phase to be held in Oxford, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the first time teams from the U.S. and Canada have been invited to take part in the uniquely British competition. Three teams from Georgia took part, and two of them were placed, with one winning the competition and one other Georgia Tech team selected as runner-up.

The teams each produced a mock idea for a new biotechnology application suitable for commercialization and were selected on the basis of originality, commercial potential and interest in transatlantic collaboration.

The Georgia Tech winning team is made up of graduate students from The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of Georgia Tech and Emory University. Using the name SpiFi, the team developed an idea that draws on the genetic mechanisms spiders use to control the protein composition of their treads to develop a dry adhesive. Continued development of this material could lead to applications where adhesives are necessary, especially in moisture sensitive conditions. The team's captain is Brent Nix, and his team members are Allison Dennis, Charles Glaus, and Chris Lessing.

The other winning teams were:

· Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. - Innovative Clinical Unlimited, who outlined the use of an automated device to image the retina which would allow primary care physicians to diagnose potentially blinding diseases before patients lose their sight.

· University of California, San Francisco, Ca. - The UCSF team, Brain Invaders, devised a plan for an imaginary drug-delivery technology that has the capability to open more avenues for the treatment of central nervous system disorders.

· University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - The Canadian team, Nutriceutix Biotech, fashioned a new venture for developing proprietary biopolymers capable of delivering sustained-release nutrient mixtures directly into human tissue. This technology offers a safe and cost-effective method for biopolymer deliver of therapeutic nutrients.

The successful Georgia Tech team will participate in workshops in Britain in September consisting of presentations from leading figures in the UK biotech industry on intellectual property, international funding and investment, financial planning, commercial and marketing strategies and an evaluation of market potential. There also will be mentoring sessions from industry experts to help the team generate their business plans. The Georgia Tech team will compete against the other three teams for a $1,000 prize and a trip to London for the finals in December.

The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is an innovative academic business plan competition that raises awareness of the commercialization of ideas from the biosciences for postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists. David Muller, Vice Consul for Science and Technology at the British Consulate General says, "This is a perfect example of the types of programs that the British Government has in place to strengthen transatlantic bonds between the scientific communities and, in addition, allow students and researchers with no business background to learn about entrepreneurship and commercialization"

For more information, contact Jo LeGood, Vice Consul Press and Public Affairs at (404) 954-7706 or David Muller, Vice Consul Science and Technology at (404) 954-7738.