ECE Students, Faculty Among Semi-Finalists in UMD Business Plan Competition

The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) announced 20 high-technology and biotechnology semifinalists for the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition. Now in its eleventh year, the competition has served as a launch pad for Inc. 500 companies.

Semi-finalists were selected among 71 entries in two categories: High-Technology and Biotechnology, and Undergraduate Students. Entries, submitted as executive summaries, were advanced based upon their value proposition, competitive advantage, target market, business model, intellectual property, and clarity. Finalists will be announced April 5. On May 6, as part of the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition finals, they will present their companies to a panel of judges from the regional venture-building community before a live audience at the Stamp Student Union.

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students and ECE-affiliated faculty are represented on the following semi-finalist teams:

In the Undergraduate Students category, Brainbox Learning is developing a fully integrated learning management system designed to overcome the weaknesses in current systems. Team members: Robert Seng, electrical and computer engineering and the Hinman CEOs Program; Albert Wavering, physics and the Hinman CEOs Program.

Also competing in the Undergraduate Students category, ShopAlong is developing a software application that provides in-store shoppers a no-hassle shopping experience, including assistive services for the aging and disabled population, delivery accommodations, and a streamlined, in-store checkout process. Team: Kailyn Cage, physical science and the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program; Robin Brewer, computer science; Nefretiti Nassar, alumna, electrical and computer engineering and graduate student, systems engineering.

In the High-Technology and Biotechnology category, Ibis Microtech equips medical professionals, food quality control technicians, first responders, and national defense agencies with cost-effective diagnostics devices capable of performing laboratory-grade analyses on-site, and in record time. Team: Pamela Abshire, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering; Marc Dandin, ECE alumnus and current doctoral student, bioengineering; Marc Cohen, assistant research scientist, Institute for Systems Research; David Sander, doctoral student, electrical and computer engineering; Roland Probst, research associate, bioengineering; Olivia Grysche, MBA student; Katsuya Matsubara, MBA student; Ankit Agarwal, MBA student.

Also competing in the High-Technology and Biotechnology category, VisiSonics is developing a family of products that include audio cameras, related software and embedded technologies that create a platform for market-specific products in industrial acoustics, defense, security and entertainment. Team: Ramani Duraiswami, associate professor, computer science, ECE, and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies; Adam O'Donovan, alumnus, computer science and physics.

The University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition is administered by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Previous winners include five multi-million dollar ventures, including Squarespace and Lurn, both of which were named to the Inc. 500 list for the second straight year.

The competition encourages students, faculty and researchers at the University of Maryland to leverage their talent and ideas to create tomorrow's leading companies. The competition process, its mentors, partners and cash prizes have helped many students, faculty and researchers build their own companies.

Sponsors of the 2011 competition include Fish & Richardson P.C., Nixon Peabody LLP and Warren Citrin.

For more information about the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition, and for a complete list of semi-finalist teams, visit

Published March 13, 2011