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NanoMed wins Deloitte Business Plan Competition

A team of Ohio State students developing a device used to genetically modify cells and enable the rapid prototyping of new gene therapies took first place honors in the 2008 Deloitte Business Plan Competition hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship.

The team, NanoMed, included Mihaela Jekic, a biomedical engineering PhD student, Bruce Caldwell, a student in the MBA for Working Professionals program, Eric Cochran, a physics PhD student, and Aaron Sander, a graduate physics student. They presented a business plan for the Zip-Disk Gene Delivery System, a device that could potentially help researchers create cures for cancer, autoimmune diseases and other debilitating disorders.

Last month the team was one of three finalists at the 2008 Materials Research Society (MRS) Entrepreneurship Challenge, one of the nation’s most prestigious technology business start-up competitions.

The Zip-Disc Gene Delivery System, developed by bioengineering researchers at Ohio State, will be initially marketed to cell research laboratories to enable rapid prototyping of cells. The technology dramatically reduces the waiting period to produce test results from three months to three days. Researchers have also experienced a 95 percent survival rate in the delivered cells, up from 50 percent.

“The judges were impressed by the strong background of this team and its plan to bring this technology to the marketplace,” said S. Michael Camp, academic director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “This is a great concept derived from an exciting technology from Ohio State and the primary opportunity will be determined by how quickly they can grow and become the standard in the market.”

Another component of the technology, which is still under development, injects a disposable cartridge of 10,000 cells into a patient’s body for therapeutic purposes.

Finishing second in the competition was XMRI, a medical device development company that presented a business plan for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compatible treadmills for use in exercise stress cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. ThermoBuffer, a company developing new technology that addresses temperature control in containers for food and liquids, finished in third place.

Elliott Endsley of American Recyclers earned the Top Young Entrepreneur Award for the best effort by an undergraduate student or team. American Recyclers is developing a system to reduce the strain on landfills by salvaging recyclable materials from garbage and then grinding and disposing the remaining waste.

The top three finishers and the top undergraduate entrepreneur will share more than $145,000 in start-up funds and services. This year’s competition attracted 72 entries.