A technique for the treatment of macular degeneration got the green light for commercialization from a team of MBAs and their informal technology commercialization board — the 130 industry representatives judging the MBA Technology Transfer Challenge.

First-year MBA candidates Jason Call, Nicholas Jones, Mike Reynolds, Travis Habhab and Ivan Cima took first prize, winning $3,000 in the 4th annual challenge, sponsored by Mays’ Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

The challenge is a required part of the curriculum for all first-year MBAs. Students have a week to assess a new technology, identify markets for it and determine its potential commercial viability. They must then make a “go” or “no go” decision on the technology and defend their decision to potential business and venture capital investors.

Students randomly draw from selected technologies. The inventions are developed by Texas A&M University System researchers and managed by the Texas A&M System Office of Technology Commercialization.

The week ends with a day of pitches in front of judges familiar with the industry or accustomed to investing in new ventures, giving students a real-world feel for business analysis, decision-making and entrepreneurship.

“The annual Tech Transfer Challenge brings MBA classroom lessons to life,” said Richard Scruggs, director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. “It really tests their learning as well as their research, analysis, planning and teamwork skills.”

The challenge was underwritten by Ford Motor Company. CRA International provided the $3,000 grand prize; Monika Matthews (in honor of Gordon Matthews) sponsored the second-place, $2,000 award; and Hewlett Packard sponsored the third-place prize of $1,000.

Other winning teams include:
Second place:  Low-Volume Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) Sampler Head, presented by Lauren Fincher, Kevin Venturini, Marty Allsop, Kipper Overstreet and Paul Dyson.

Third place: Fluorescently Labeled Primer Combinations to Produce a Multiplexed Assay for High Throughput Identification of Bovine Prion Protein Gene (PRNP) Mutations, prestened by Abbas Halabi, Sanjay Gokhale, Patrick Cary and Mendi Slodowitz.