The Rice Business Plan competition is the premier STEM-based competition in the country. First place is $350,000 in investment capital, $100,000 for second place, and $50,000 for third place. 20 additional cash prizes are provided. Over the past 20 years the 700 teams that have participated have raised $2.67 billion in funding. You may recall that a couple of years ago, Mito Materials Solutions, an OSU student startup, place 2nd in the competition. That’s a distinction that we’re proud of to this day.
We don’t submit an entry each year, but we did this year—Paldara. Paldara is an OSU student startup that has worked primarily with David Thomison. Paldara Pharmaceuticals is led by Beau Blanchard, MBA and MSE, William Colton, Master’s in Microbiology and Cabeen Lab alumnus, and Jacob Miller, an undergraduate finance major. The company is developing an innovative microbial gel coating to be used with existing catheters to reduce urinary tract infections (UTI) by 99 percent. The near eradication of UTI will lower health care costs and improve patient quality of life. Note—like Mito Paldara consists of MBA and STEM students (the two principals)—the combination that has produced our best startups.
This year 440 teams applied for Rice and 54 were selected to compete. Now, for the fun. Click on the link shown below and fast-forward to about the 2:30 mark. The person you’ll see speaking is the director of the competition. Spoiler alert—Paldara made the top 54. What’s interesting is the peer group of schools that Paldara is part of. This speaks to how talented Paldara’s founders are, but also how far our program has come. In terms of business plan competitions, our peers are the schools you’ll see on the screen in a minute. Enjoy!!!