3rd UA Team Qualifies for Business Plan Competition

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2012 11:07 am  

A team led by Ellen Brune, a University of Arkansas doctoral student in chemical engineering, won a March 13 business plan competition at the University of Nebraska, the UA said Tuesday.

It is the third UA graduate student team to take the top prize in a 2012 business plan contest that carries an automatic berth for the Venture Labs Investment Competition. The UA said it is the first time any university has won three qualifying contests in the same year for what is billed as the "Super Bowl of business plan competitions."

"The University of Arkansas has been excelling in national and international business plan competitions since 2009, but we reached new heights in 2012," Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship and a professor in the department of management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, said in a news release.

"This solidifies the University of Arkansas' reputation as one of the preeminent schools in the world for the development of student start-ups."

Reeves said this is the first time since the Moot Corp Competition, now known as the Venture Labs Investment Competition, was founded in 1987 that three teams from the same university have won qualifying competitions.

Reeves has advised 14 national first-place-winning Walton College teams, accounting for more than $1.25 million in cash prizes since 2002. She had three teams win national competitions in 2010, but one of those was not an automatic qualifier for the Venture Labs Investment Competition, the UA said.

Forty teams from throughout the world qualify for the Venture Labs Investment Competition, which takes place in May at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the competition, teams compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes Investors attend these competitions to get a peek at up-and-coming entrepreneurs and new ventures.

Brune said her business plan is one to help "manufacture protein drugs faster and more cost effectively so that they can get into the hands of patients who need them." The other member of her team is her father, Ricky Draehn.

"Qualifying for VLIC is simultaneously awesome and terrifying," Brune said in the UA news release. "We will be going up against the best of the best, two of which are my fellow Arkansas teams. I just hope one of our teams wins. It would be a good show for the state of Arkansas."

Other Qualifiers

In January, the Learning DifferentiatED team, led by president and CEO, Barry James, a doctoral candidate in the UA microelectronics-photonics program, earned first place at the IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition, Canada's premier graduate student business plan competition.



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