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Zell Lurie Institute Awards More Than $100,000 to U-M Students

2/23/2011 --

Students across campus share in winnings in the Michigan Business Challenge and Dare to Dream Startup Grant Program.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Ross School's Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies has awarded more than $106,000 to the winners of its 2010-11 Michigan Business Challenge competition and to student startups receiving Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream Grants.

Award winners and grant recipients received funding totaling over $106,000 for excellence in new business plans and concepts.

Award-winner MEMStim plans to sell MEMS electrode leads to medical device companies for integration into their targeted nerve-stimulation devices. Ultimately, the company is committed to improving the standard of patient care in neurostimulation. The two MBA students and doctoral student who form the company team will use the award money to quantify regulatory risks and further prototype development.

"The Michigan Business Challenge Best Business Award is an incredible honor because of the caliber of the judges and other businesses in the competition," said MEMStim team member Angelique Johnson, a doctoral student in engineering. "We are a strong team and have learned new entrepreneurial skills throughout the competition that build upon our diverse past experiences and will help us bring our technology to market."

The four-month, multi-round Michigan Business Challenge helps students transform their business idea from a rough concept into a sound business plan. Supported by training and shaped by invaluable feedback from judges at each phase, students are exposed to a rigorous business development "boot camp" that reinforces the notion that a solid business foundation is necessary to commercialize a great idea.

More than 50 teams across campus applied to participate in this year's Michigan Business Challenge. The competition awarded a total of $54,300 in prize money to the following recipients:

—Brio Device, a medical device design company, won $1,200 for advancing to the finals.

—IRIZ Technologies, which is seeking to revolutionize cancer metastasis treatment, won $700 for advancing to the semi-finals.

—MEMStim, which sells MEMS electrode leads to medical device companies, won $20,000 for the Pryor-Hale Award for best business; $5,000 for the Williamson Award for Outstanding Business and Business /Engineering Team; and $2,000 for the Outstanding Presentation Award.

—Regenerate, which markets onsite anaerobic digesters to food service operators, won $10,000 for Runner-up for Best Business and $7,500 for the Erb Award for Sustainability.

—Reveal Design, which develops and licenses a formal verification software tool to chip design firms, won $2,000 for Outstanding Presentation.

—SanoBio Therapeutics, which is taking a novel peptide molecule and commercializing it for the treatment of diabetic ulcers, won $2,500 for Outstanding Undergraduate Team.

—STIgma Free, which develops point-of-care medical diagnostics using microfluidics and bio-MEMS technology, won $700 for advancing to the semi-finals.

—SurveyBroker, a website matching researchers with market research companies, won $2,000 for Best Written Plan.

—Thoosa, an international freight brokerage specializing in container shipments, won $700 for advancing to the semi-finals.

The Dare to Dream Grant Program funds students looking to test their business idea, formulate a plan and work toward launching their business while earning their degree. Teams can get started with an award of $500 to explore shaping their business venture, apply for $1,500 to establish the feasibility of their business, and have the potential for up to $10,000 in awards to move their company toward launch. The business creation process is supported with mentoring and workshops throughout the grant cycle and students may enter the program at any stage of business development. Awards are made each fall and winter term. More than $40,000 in grants were awarded in the fall term with $52,000 awarded this term at the Michigan Business Challenge Awards reception.

Integration Grants of up to $10,000 were awarded to:

—AYaH, a game-based, simple and secure CAPTCHA, a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. ($5,000).

—ReGenerate, onsite bio-digester systems for food service operators ($10,000 and Ann Arbor SPARK Bootcamp scholarship).

—STIgma Free, point-of-care diagnostic devices for STDs ($5,000).

—StrideSports, standing bikes ($10,000 and Ann Arbor SPARK Bootcamp scholarship).

Assessment Grants of $1,500 were awarded to:

—Cap Hotels, a boutique on-campus hotel with a college lifestyle experience.

—Digital Maxim, digital versions (eBooks) of foreign language books.

—eHealthX, a software platform for exchanging medical records.

—GastroAnalytics, a point-of-care screening device for dyssynergic defecation.

—Giant Eel Productions, provider of 3-D production services to the multidimensional media market.

—MEMStim, customizable micro-fabricated stimulators.

—Mobback, a mobile instant point-of-sale customer feedback application.

—Rural East Organic Food Company, importer of organic and fair trade certified products from China.

—Secure Healing, a health privacy monitoring and reporting platform.

—Survey Broker, matching researchers and market research companies.

—VENA, a secure point-of-sale system using biometric technology.

Venture Shaping grants of $500 were awarded to 11 teams. The funding for the Venture Shaping awards was provided by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the U-M College of Engineering.

The Michigan Business Challenge and Dare to Dream award recipients exemplify U-M's model for entrepreneurial studies. The model puts a high value on integrated experiential learning across the entrepreneurial studies curriculum and throughout its robust portfolio of entrepreneurial program offerings. These experiences foster an entrepreneurial mindset, form the foundation for multidisciplinary entrepreneurial skill development, and connect students with key individuals and networks important to their career pursuits as they move forward.

"What began as a business school-centric competition in 1984 now engages students drawn from the university's 19 schools and colleges," says Tom Kinnear, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. "Collaboration with the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering helped us to broaden the Dare to Dream Grant Program as well. These initiatives are among a robust portfolio of programs here at the Ross School of Business and within U-M's entrepreneurial ecosystem that push the envelope of entrepreneurship education, where Michigan students can develop the breadth and depth of an entrepreneurial skill set an individual chooses."

For more information on Dare to Dream and Michigan Business Challenge award winners, visit

For more information, contact:
Mary Nickson, (734) 615-4424,