Second-year MBA students Irene Susantio and Brian Smith are $20,000 closer to achieving their dream of fighting cancer.
On Wednesday, their team, named Solixia, secured the title of Grand Winner at the tenth annual Wharton Business Plan Competition.
A radiopharmaceutical company, Solixia has created an agent for diagnosing breast cancer and a treatment for ovarian cancer.
In the U.S. at least 16,000 breast cancer patients each year would benefit from screenings that their product would provide because it would allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis and disease staging.
Winning the competition "will open more opportunities for this particular business," Susantio said.
Although the business has been launched already, it is currently structured as a virtual company, meaning that the company does not have any of its own physical infrastructure, Smith said.
Upon graduation, the co-founders will take the seed funding and the assistance from the in-kind legal and accounting services -- an additional non-monetary award for the top three teams in WBPC - to take their company to the next level.
Solixia was chosen from eight finalists, selected from a pool of 25 semi-finalists who were chosen in March. Each team delivered a 20 minute presentation and participated in a Q&A; session in front of a panel of successful Penn alumni venture capitalists who judged the competition.
To celebrate the competition's tenth anniversary, a new award - the People's Choice Award - was added to the program this year. While the judges were selecting the winners, the audience was given the opportunity to pretend to be venture capitalists and judge their favorite team after listening to each company's two-minute pitch on their business concept.
The winner of the $3,000 award was Innova Materials, a predominantly undergraduate team that creates new types of sanitary surface coatings for plastics. The team also won the second prize of $10,000.
"The quality of the presentations continues to improve," said David Piacquad, who received his MBA from Wharton in 1984. He has been a judge for five years.
"At some points in the past competitions people were a little bit too optimistic about how little money they'll need," he said, but this year's competitors have been realistic.
Piacquad also said the undergraduate teams fared particularly well this year despite the competition from more experienced MBA students. Along with Innova Materials who won the second prize, the third place went to Engineering senior Chrysta Irolla for her company, Proteza, that makes socks for below-the-knee amputees that will allow them to walk with more ease.
"Usually we have one undergraduate team in the finals," Piacquad said. "Having two out of the top three is unprecedented."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.