ECE Students & Faculty Win $50K Business Plan Competition

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ECE Research Associate Will Plishker

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students and faculty competed on all three winning teams and were runners-up on two others in the University of Maryland's $50K Business Plan Competition, organized annually by Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTECH) Ventures, a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Competition finals were held on April 27, 2007 at the University of Maryland, in room 1110 of the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building.

ECE Research Associate Will Plishker; ECE graduate students Yashwanth Hemaraj (May '07) and Omkar Dandekar, and ECE Adjunct Professor Raj Shekhar were winners in the Faculty and Graduate Student Division, earning $10,000 in prize money. The team has put together a new company called Accelign that is developing technology that quickly fuses or "registers" medical images from multiple sources to create a single, three-dimensional image. Fusing images through Accelign's hardware accelerator gives doctors the ability, using existing imaging equipment, to see the metabolic activity of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, as well as the high resolution anatomical structure of computed tomography (CT) scans, all in one image. This innovation can help doctors provide more accurate diagnoses and pre-operative planning.

A 2002 ECE alumna and a current undergrad, David Crawford (B.S. '09), were winners in the Young Alumni Division for their business plan, titled Aid Networks LLC, winning $10,000. AID Networks is a seed stage medical device R&D company developing small, portable, wireless, wearable vital sign monitors for hospital patients. The team’s patent-pending monitors are 15 times less expensive than existing products. The team's invention was in the news recently after the team won second place and the Entrepreneurial Vision Award at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) competition in Santa Barbara, Ca.

Finishing in third place in the Young Alumni Division, winning $2,000, was Erudition, a company developing an online learning community dedicated to providing users with the tools to create and share study materials with classmates, as well as give users the opportunity to enroll in interactive online courses. The team consists of Kurt Mansperger, computer engineering and finance undergraduate student; Brian Guenther, 2006 alumnus of the University of Maryland; and Jon Krangel, Hinman CEOs and finance undergraduate student.

In the Undergraduate Student Division, both finalists included ECE students.

The winning team, IMPACT Education LLC, won $5,000. IMPACT develops low-cost educational kits that university professors can use to teach MEMS fabrication outside of expensive laboratory facilities. While those facilities can cost millions of dollars to build, IMPACT’s educational kit will cost only $500. The team is comprised of undergraduates Ryan Herrera, electrical engineering ('07); John Karvounis, computer engineering ('07); Peter Orlicki, Hinman CEOs, computer engineering and finance ('08); Travis Young, electrical engineering ('07); Kristin Freese, Hinman CEOs and government and politics, ('07); Steven Hoffenson, mechanical engineering ('07); Kate Imp, criminology and criminal justice alumna ('06); Paul Kang, marketing and logistics ('07); Jamie Kim, finance and accounting, ('07); Wei-Liang William Lai, computer science and math ('07); Fred Perrotta, economics ('07); Jennifer Thompson, mechanical engineering ('07); Joe Wakeman-Linn, psychology ('07); and Ben Worku, information systems and finance ('07).

Finishing in second place and winning $2,000 was Medical Error Reduction through Information Technology (MERIT), a company developing Meritrack, a low-cost, scalable, and flexible total procedural healthcare systems solution that will reduce human error in healthcare and support efficiency in clinical record keeping. Meritrack will integrate mobile computing, RFID tracking, and relational database technologies into existing clinical and hospital infrastructures. The team, whose members participate in the Gemstone program, is comprised of: Timothy Han, Gemstone, electrical engineering, ('08); Dennis Kim, Gemstone, electrical engineering ('08); Kyle Weber, Gemstone, electrical engineering ('08); Victoria Yan, Hinman CEOs, Gemstone, and electrical engineering ('08); Dr. Gilmer Blankenship, professor and associate chair for external affairs, electrical engineering and Chairman, TechnoSci, Inc.; James Briscoe, Gemstone and aerospace engineering ('08); Michael Cortina, Hinman CEOs, Gemstone, and mechanical engineering ('08); John Gianfrancesco, Hinman CEOs and Finnace ('08); Joshua Macht, Gemstone, cell biology and molecular genetics ('08); Michael Maraña, Gemstone, aerospace engineering ('08); Michael McKay, Gemstone, government and politics, mathematics, and computer science ('08); Gregory Parkins, Gemstone, Finance, economics, and government and politics ('07); Vasanthi Raghavan, Gemstone, mechanical engineering ('08); Andreas Saltos, Gemstone, biomedical engineering ('08); Theodore Tien, Gemstone, finance, and marketing, ('08); and Michael Vellucci, Hinman CEOs, accounting, and finance ('08).

Finalists were selected from 18 semifinalists, and nearly 60 initial entries.

Judges for the event were: Jonathan Aberman, Founder and Managing Director, Amplifier Venture Partners; Henry Ahn, Program Manager, Technology Funding Programs, Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); Warren Citrin, CEO, Gloto; Ray Dizon, Managing Director, Maryland Venture Fund; Mark Kass, Member, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo; Karl Renner, Principal, Fish & Richardson P.C.

Sponsors for the competition included Fish & Richardson P.C.; Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo; Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development; Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

The competition, now in its seventh year, has historically awarded a total of $385,000 in prizes to faculty, students and alumni with the best plans for innovative ventures. Previous winners include Chesapeake Perl, AnthroTronix, Squarespace, Affiliate Classroom, and RioRey (previously known as Macrophage).

For a complete list of winners, and more photos, please visit the UM $50K Business Plan Competition Web site, at

MTECH Ventures, an initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, provides cutting-edge entrepreneurship education to technology creators and stimulates venture creation by delivering a portfolio of services and resources to entrepreneurs committed to bridging the gap between technical ideas and viable ventures.

Visitors can learn more at the MTECH Ventures website.

Published April 30, 2007