HOUSTON – Infinite Cooling, co-founded by Kripa Varanasi and Karim Khalil, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology emerged as the top startup company in the 2018 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
The annual event is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition.
Selected by 300 judges from the investment sector as representing the best investment opportunity and taking home nearly $500,000 in cash and prizes, Infinite Cooling bested 41 other competitors hailing from some of the world’s top universities. Infinite Cooling is a technology startup that uses electric fields to recover water from the evaporative losses of cooling towers so that the same water can be used repeatedly.
The prizes were presented at a banquet at the Westin Galleria that concluded the three-day event, which began April 5. At the banquet, an additional $565,000 in prizes was awarded, bringing the total amount awarded to more than $2 million.
Significant prizes this year and the teams that won them include:
* $300,000 GOOSE Investment Grand Prize – Infinite Cooling, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
* $200,000 Owl Investment – Aday Technologies, Harvard University.
* $100,000 Owl Investment – Infinite Cooling, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* $150,000 Houston Angel Network Investment Prize – ClearCam, University of Texas at Austin.
* $150,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize – WCB Robotics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Hyderabad.
* $100,000 Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize – Lunula Health, Georgia Institute of Technology.
* $100,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Prize – OZÉ, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
* $100,000 Finger Interests and Anderson Family Fund Second-Place Investment Prize – Lapovations, University of Arkansas.
* $50,000 NASA Space Exploration Innovation Innovation Award – Ateios, University of California San Diego.
* $50,000 Department of Energy Clean Tech Prize – NUMiX, Northwestern University.
* $50,000 Station Houston Investment Prize – OZÉ, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
* $30,000 Women’s Health and Wellness Prize – Lapovations, University of Arkansas.
* $20,000 Women’s Health and Wellness Prize – Rubi, Brigham Young University.
* $25,000 Texas Business Hall of Fame Best of Texas Prize – ClearCam, University of Texas at Austin.
* $25,000 TMCx Life Science Accelerator Prize – Instapath, Tulane University.
* $25,000 Pearland Economic Development Spirit of Entrepreneurship Prize – Embryotics, Texas Tech University.
* $20,000 JLABS@TMC Best Life Science Startup Prize – Lapovations, University of Arkansas.
WCB Robotics from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Hyderabad Campus won the $5,000 People’s Choice Competition sponsored by SoFi. The winner was determined by more than 8,000 people who voted for their favorite team via a Facebook survey.
This year’s field of competitors was among the most diverse in the history of the competition and came from top universities around the globe, according to Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance. The teams were chosen from more than 300 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences, information technology/web/mobile, energy/clean technology/sustainability and tech innovation. Each team made its case in 15-minute investment pitches and a rapid-fire 60-second elevator-pitch contest on the first night of the competition.
The top six finalists based on the judges’ overall scores in the 2018 RBPC were:
Infinite Cooling, Massachusetts Institute of Technology — grand prize with a total value of nearly $500,000.
The grand prize includes:
- $300,000-plus Investment Prize from the GOOSE Society of Texas.
- $100,000 Owl Investment.
- Marketing services from The Padgett Group ($10,000).
- Website development, hosting and search engine optimization services for one year provided by Astoundz ($30,000).
- Treasury services provided by Bank of America ($5,000).
- Business plan software provided by Palo Alto Software.
- Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York.
Lapovations, University of Arkansas — $100,000 second-place prize and more than $50,000 in individual prizes.
Lapovations is a medical device company focused on improving laparoscopy. The company’s first product is a single-use medical device that uses suction to lift the abdominal wall more reliably and less invasively than current lifting methods.
Aday Technologies, Harvard University — third place and $200,000 in individual prizes.
Aday is a workforce management tool that lets hourly workers schedule themselves, with the goal of fewer dropped shifts, less overtime and less turnover.
Rubi, Brigham Young University — fourth place and more than $20,000 in individual prizes.
Rubi is developing the world’s first completely passive wearable fetal monitor. The monitor use a series of piezo-resistive nanocomposite silicone stretch sensors to track baby movement in the third trimester when stillbirth becomes an issue.
CatheCare, Columbia University — fifth place and more than $10,000 in individual prizes.
CatheCare’s CaSS device attaches onto catheters and uses UV-C light to prevent dangerous catheter-related bloodstream infections.
OZÉ, Massachusetts Institute of Technology — sixth place and more than $150,000 in individual prizes.
OZÉ’s goal is to empower small business owners in Africa to make data-driven decisions. It is a mobile app that aggregates and analyzes transaction data to push context-specific recommendations to improve performance.
WCB Robotics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Hyderabad Campus – seventh place and more than $450,000 in individual prizes, including a $300,000 prize awarded by the GOOSE Society of Texas at the banquet.
WCB robotics is developing window cleaning robots for cleaning the façade of high-rise skyscrapers.
More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition.
Since the RBPC’s inception in 2001, when nine teams competed for $10,000, more than 201 competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today or have successfully sold. Past competitors have raised nearly $2 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs.