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Posted: March 13, 2008
University of Arkansas Students' Nano-Counterfeiting Start-up to Compete in Business Contest
(Nanowerk News) Three University of Arkansas at Little Rock students will showcase their plan to use nanotechnology to detect counterfeit products in the Rice University Business Plan Competition.
The trio makes up one of 36 teams worldwide selected to participate in the event, the largest intercollegiate graduate-level competition of its kind. It is scheduled for April 3-5.
Drew Jensen and Mitesh Patel, both MBA candidates, put together the business plan for TruSource Technologies. The start-up company was created to market scientific developments by Enkeleda Dervishi, who is seeking her doctorate in nanotechnology and applied science, and her advisor, Dr. Alex Biris, chief scientist of the UALR Nanotechnology Center.
TruSource Technologies uses structural materials, which are thousands of times smaller than the human hair, to form sensors that detect commercial counterfeit products ranging from airplane parts to pharmaceuticals.
"I consider it a feather in their cap to be selected for the Rice competition," said Mildred Holley, technology programs manager and business advisor for the Arkansas Small Business Development Center at UALR.
Holley is coaching the team for the business competition.
The same team also will compete on April 5 as one of the six finalists in Arkansas' collegiate entrepreneurial competition, the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup.
The team will have to split up to tackle both highly-competitive events. Patel and Dervishi will present at the Rice competition, while Jensen will make the presentation for the Reynold's Governor's Cup.
"This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Jensen said. "Seeing TruSource's name listed among teams from Harvard, MIT and Cambridge was a surreal experience."
The Rice Alliance hosts the Rice Business Plan Competition at the Houston campus for the worlds' top MBA/graduate schools. Teams will network with more than 150 venture capital principals, early stage investors and successful entrepreneurs who are on the judging panel.
More than 500 executives are expected to attend the banquet, where more than $600,000 will be awarded.
The TruSource Technologies team, which also qualified to compete in the innovation category, will present for the Reynold's Governor's Cup on April 5 at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock. Cash prizes totaling $104,000 will be awarded April 17.