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Rice University Business Plan Competition Awards $800,000

World’s Richest and Largest Business Plan Competition

The 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) awarded more than $800,000 in cash and prizes at an awards banquet on Saturday, April 18. More than 700 people attended the banquet that marked the conclusion of the three-day RBPC, the world’s richest and largest business plan competition in the world.

Forty-two teams from across the globe were chosen to pitch their new technology business plans to more than 200 judges made up of successful venture capital investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. The event, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, marked the ninth installment of the RBPC.

The Rice University team, 80Legs, advanced to the finals for the first time and placed 6th overall. Their company dramatically reduces the costs and challenges of analyzing web-wide content by providing an inexpensive, easy platform for web-scale analysis.

Thirty-six of the teams competed in four categories: life sciences, information technology, energy/clean technology, and sustainability. Winners of each group competed for the $325,000 grand prize. In all, $170,000 in additional investment and cash prizes were added this year, including three, $20,000 Earth/Space Engineering Innovation awards sponsored by NASA Johnson Space Center and one $100,000 tech transfer investment prize offered by DFJ Mercury, an early-stage venture capital firm.

All teams that participated in this year’s RBPC received cash prizes. The competition’s grand prize was valued at over $325,000 and included a $225,000 equity investment, $20,000 cash and over $80,000 of business services including office space, marketing support, and business mentoring. Dynamics of Carnegie Mellon University won the Grand Prize and also won the Best I.T. Award. Dynamics produces next-generation interactive payment cards.

The supplemental six teams were added this year to compete in the area of Social Entrepreneurship with the introduction of the $10,000 cash Sheafor-Lindsay Social Venture Award which encourage business leaders to develop enterprises which contribute to the social good and positively impact society. The winner, SolarCycle of Brown University, developed an innovative reflective material from recycling waste material to make solar cookers and water pasteurization systems for developing countries.

Rice Alliance Managing Director Brad Burke said, “Through the mentoring and networking available at the RBPC, nearly 70 percent of last year’s competitors have gone on to successfully launch their companies, raise funding, and build their businesses. We look forward to watching the future successes of this year’s crop of competitors.”

FORTUNE Small Business co-sponsored the competition again this year and will feature the winners, teams and competition in the June 2009 issue of the magazine and on To learn more about the RBPC, visit

About the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship is Rice University's flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship. The Rice Alliance's mission is to provide entrepreneurship education and to support the commercialization of technology innovations and the creation of new companies in the Texas and Houston region. Since its inception in 1999, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 230 new technology companies, which have raised more than half a billion dollars in early stage funding. Of these, approximately 30 companies have been launched based on technology developed by Rice faculty and researchers and licensed from the Rice Office of Technology Transfer.

Unique among many entrepreneurship centers, the Rice Alliance was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools at Rice University: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management.

In 2009, the Rice Alliance was named the Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program for technology entrepreneurship in the U.S. by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and Houston’s Greatest Economic Development Ally by the Greater Houston Partnership.

In 2008 and 2007, Rice University was recognized as having one of the top 25 graduate entrepreneurship programs in the U.S. by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine (No. 16 in 2008). In 2007, the Rice Alliance was recognized as the No. 1 university entrepreneurship center in the U.S. for enterprise creation by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.

Media Contact:
Mary Lynn Fernau
Rice Alliance for
Technology & Entrepreneurship