In a sign that student business plans are reaching new heights of sophistication, the Wharton Business Plan Competition awarded its $25,000 grand prize to bone biopsy innovators Envisia Inc. at the annual Wharton Venture Fair on Monday, April 22. In all, the competition distributed over $80,000 in cash prizes this year.
One trend emerging throughout this year's competition--which is open to any University of Pennsylvania student and is managed by the Wharton School's Entrepreneurial Management Program--is the "back to basics" nature of products and services represented. "We are delighted that this year's students seem to have taken advantage of the educational process we provide," says Anne Stamer, associate director for Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs. "This year we've seen the students drive each other to create substantive business plans that go beyond gimmicks. That's why we think many are already well on their way to becoming successful business owners and innovators."
Reflective of the trend, some plans contained extensive research and others modest revenue projections. Students targeted niche markets in their plans for such businesses as wound care resins, online auction security and a new jet-powered industrial hammer for the construction industry.
The Wharton Business Plan Competition winners included:
- Grand prize: $25,000 to Envisia Inc. (patented system for non-invasive virtual bone biopsy)
- First runner-up: $15,000 to Q Systems (customer relationship management and call center technology for credit unions)
- Second runner-up: $10,000 to Brightpoint Technology (enhancements for high-performance computing applications)
- The University of Pennsylvania/Goldman Sachs Foundation Entrepreneurship in Education Program (Education Track) Awards: $10,000 to CoolSource Technologies Inc. and Transitional School Management for the Education Track teams advancing to the semi-finals
- Frederick H. Glockner Award: $7,000 to Q Systems for the highest-ranking Wharton undergraduate team in the Wharton Business Plan Competition
- Finalist prizes: $1,500 to BondMyAuction, Jet Technologies Inc., PharmaKinetix, RayLink Systems and Sterling Pharmaceuticals.
This year's Venture Fair took place at the Hall of Flags on the University of Pennsylvania campus and attracted more than 200 venture capitalists, business leaders and students. Judges came from such companies as Apax Ventures, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Johnson & Johnson and J.P. Morgan Partners LLC.
Now in its fourth year, The Wharton Business Plan Competition has spawned a number of successful businesses. Notable this year is the launch of the first ever education "industry track" in partnership with Penn's Graduate School of Education, as part of its goal to encourage participation by all entrepreneurial-minded students at the University of Pennsylvania. The new education track is sponsored by The Goldman Sachs Foundation, which is also a Gold Sponsor of the competition.