Northwestern University’s SiNode Systems wins $911,000 at 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition

David Ruth

Amy Hodges

 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition awards $1.5 million, crowns world champion

HOUSTON – (April 18, 2013) – The 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes last weekend at Rice University. Northwestern University’s SiNode Systems emerged as the top startup company in the world’s richest and largest business plan competition held April 11-13.

Described by FORTUNE magazine as “the Super Bowl and World Series of business plan competitions,” the contest brought 42 university teams from across the globe to pitch their new technology businesses to a record number of more than 300 venture capital and investor judges. Judges evaluated the businesses based on the investment potential.

The teams competed in five categories — energy, clean technology and sustainability, information technology, life sciences/biotech/health care, social-impact ventures and other technologies — by presenting 15-minute investment pitches. They also competed in a rapid-fire 60-second elevator pitch contest on the first night of the competition.

The competition’s grand prize was valued at $911,400 and included $700,000 in equity investments, $110,000 in additional cash prizes and $101,400 of business services, including office space, marketing support and business mentoring.

Since the RBPC’s inception, more than 138 competitors have successfully launched their companies and are in business today or have had successful exits and have raised more than $600 million in funding.

The top six finalists in the 2013 RBPC were:

SiNode Systems, Northwestern University – Grand prize,  $911,400, total value
SiNode Systems is a battery materials company developing silicon graphene anodes for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. SiNode anodes offer 10 times higher battery capacity and a tenfold decrease in charging time compared with current technology.

The grand prize includes:

  • $350,000 Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas .
  • $100,000 OWL Investment Prize.
  • $100,000 Technology Award from Opportunity Houston and Greater Houston Partnership.
  • $100,000 Mercury Fund Tech Transfer Investment Prize.
  • $100,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize.
  • $ 50,000 Trailblazer Capital Startup Entrepreneur Investment Prize.
  • $ 10,000 Edward H. Molter Memorial Prize for Best Presentation.
  • One year of incubation services at the Houston Technology Center and a year of computing support provided by 1-Service ($35,000).
  • Marketing and design services provided by BrandExtract and The Padgett Group ($25,000).
  • Website development and hosting services for one year provided by ContentActive ($30,000).
  • Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000).
  • Dun & Bradstreet Credit Builder Prize ($1,398).
  • Business Plan software provided by Palo Alto Software.
  • Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York.

BriteSeed, LLC, Northwestern – second place, $273,000.
BriteSeed, LLC is a medical device company that has established its SafeSnips platform technology around intraoperative blood vessel detection and real-time analytics.

  • $100,000 Investment Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas.
  • $100,000 Life Science Technology Award from Opportunity Houston and Greater Houston Partnership.
  • $ 20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award.
  • $ 15,000 second-place cash prize, Fingers Investments.
  • $ 3,000 Best Life Science Award, Essex Woodlands.
  • One year of incubation services at the Houston Technology Center and year of computing support provided by 1-Service ($35,000).

VOC Diagnostics, University of Louisville – third place, $7,500.
VOC Diagnostics has developed a lung cancer diagnostic device that can detect the presence of lung cancer through the capture and analysis of volatile organic compounds in a patient’s breath. This group has sent more than three years and $1,000,000 developing the patent-pending technology that will make VitaLung, the new gold standard in early diagnosis for lung cancer screening.

Owlet Baby Monitors, Brigham Young University – fourth place, $5,000.
Owlet Baby Monitors has developed a new medical device to prevent sudden infant death syndrome fatalities in babies by improved home monitoring of heart rate, oxygen levels and breathing using new wireless technology connected to parents’ smartphones.

AQDOT, University of Cambridge, England – fifth place, $4,000.
Based on cutting-edge research from the University of Cambridge, AQDOT has developed a low-cost process for microencapsulation, a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry, with established applications in household and personal care, food and agrochemical markets. AQDOT can produce inexpensive capsules while preserving the activity of biomacromolecules, which can be triggered to release on demand.

MouseHouse, The University of Chicago – sixth place, $102,000.
MouseHouse has developed best-practice software to enable scientists in industry and research institutions to save time and money in managing the millions of laboratory animals that are key assets to discovery, testing and deployment of medical advances.

  • $95,000 OWL Investment Prize.
  • $3,000 sixth place.
  • $ 3,000 Sales and Digital Marketing – HBJ and ContentActive.
  • $ 1,000 first place in Austin Ventures elevator pitch competition.

Other prize winners (in alphabetical order) were:

3PDx, iTest, the University of Utah – $600

AGcerez, Chulalonghorn University,Thailand – $2,000

Akiba Cooking Solutions, Colorado State University – $600

AME, the University of British Columbia, Canada – $700

Bearing Analytics, Purdue University – $4,250

Big Science, Stanford University – $20,250

Bit Harmonics, Harvard University and MIT – $500

CellCap Therapeutics, Ltd., King’s College London, England – $500

Disease Diagnostic Group, Case Western Reserve University – $11,500

EEme , Carnegie Mellon University – $1,000

Effortless Energy, the University of Chicago – $700

Enkinta Energy, University of Southern California – $1,250

EverFile Systems, University of Illinois at Chicago – $5,000

Excalibur, Harvard University and Technical University Kosice, Slovakia – $600

FlashFood LLC, Arizona State University – $700

Inviroment LLC, Brigham Young University – $2,200

Kaffeination Ltd., the University of Manchester, England – $2,750

Manifest Diagnostics, University of Oklahoma – $600

Medical Informatics Corp., Rice University – $28,500

Mesdi Systems Inc., University of Central Florida – $500

mPOSbooks, University of Virginia – $500

MuPor Technologies, University of Idaho – $600

NanoNET, Boston College – $1,500

Navillum Nanotechnologies LLC, the University of Utah – $700

OncoFilter, The Ohio State University – $1,000

PathoS, Johns Hopkins University – $25,700

Picasolar, University of Arkansas – $1,000

Quad Technologies LLC, Northeastern University – $1,000

Rose Energy, University of Oklahoma – $4,450

Saranas LLC, Rice University – $1,500

Seismos, The University of Texas – $11,000

SensorHound Innovations, Purdue University – $600

SnapShop, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China – $500

Takachar, MIT – $500

TarFresh, Thammasat University, Thailand – $600

Vitalnx, Vanderbilt University – $1,000

For full descriptions of the participating teams, visit


For more information, contact Amy Hodges, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or

This news release can be found online at

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

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The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s largest and richest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship along with the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

This is the 13th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.More than 145 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition. Venture capitalists and other investors from around the country volunteer their time to judge the competition, with the majority of the 300+ judges coming from the investment sector. Two hundred and twenty-one competitors have gone on to launch their business,, with 138 of those still in business today or having successfully exited. Teams have raised in excess of $600 million in funding and employ more than 1,000 people.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.