Kelli R. Levey, February 28th, 2011
Taking technology projects to the masses starts with a group of corporate leaders — CEOs who have volunteered to judge their presentations and supporting materials in the MBA Technology Transfer Challenge at Mays.
Twelve teams of MBA students recently completed the annual process of gathering data, then presenting their findings to the group of judges. The top three teams left with cash prizes and bragging rights for the next year.
The annual MBA Technology Transfer Challenge tasks teams of MBA students to gather data about cutting edge technology projects, then present their findings to a group of experienced judges. (view more photos)
Participation in the challenge is part of the first-year MBA curriculum. The technology is assigned randomly, but the event represents the first time the students are allowed to choose their teammates — a lesson in itself, according to Richard Lester, executive director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, which sponsors the event.
“This is a huge experiential exercise for the students,” Lester explains. “They not only work with real CEOs, they also work with their classmates to pitch the investment and the technology.”
Presentations are judged not on the merits of the technology, but on the students’ effectiveness at demonstrating its marketability. The winners are determined by the depth of their research, which includes market analysis, potential barriers to market entry and competition, their presentation skills and evidence of product knowledge during the Q&A session with the judges.
The exercise introduces viable technology projects and provides insight into those projects to the judges, many of whom are MBA graduates who have participated in the program previously. Diana Doughty ’10, whose team won in 2009, said it is an honor to be asked to judge the contest.
“It’s neat to see what they come up with, especially when you’ve been through it and you know what all they have to go through to get there,” she said. “It’s exciting to be on this side of it, and it’s an honor to serve the school in this way.”
Taking first place this year was team CorInnova, with MBA students John Brown, Luke Carlton, Cody Slape, Kelly Taylor Alfredo Volio and Peter Eskander. Their technology project is an early-stage cardiovascular device company developing an innovative implantable device to treat congestive heart failure.
This year’s first-place team studied an innovative implantable device developed by CorInnova to treat congestive heart failure. (view more photos)
The second-place team members were Brandon Boatcallie, Derek Colvin, Nishita Roy and Jasen Smith. Their technology project, Shape Memory Therapeutics, is a neurovascular device company founded to commercialize innovative medical devices to treat stroke and cerebral aneurysm.
The third-place team members were Jeff Cope, Larry Jackson, Dawn Lin, Justin Martin and Nityasha Wadalkar. Their project, Preclinical PET, centered on the development of completely new silicon-based photon detectors by Hammumatsu, will enable groundbreaking positron emission tomography (PET) detection hardware with the ability to operate in a magnetic field enabling the combination of PET and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The Texas A&M System employs one of the world’s premiere software writers for PET imaging, Dr. Mark Lennox. The combination of these two capabilities (hardware/software) and a focus on preclinical applications of the technology is the basis for the company.
The prizes were $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place, which was sponsored by JBKnowledge. The title sponsor was the Texas A&M Division of Research and Graduate Studies, and other sponsors were AXYS and ConocoPhillips.