Zell Lurie Institute Reveals Semi-Finalists in Michigan Business Challenge

Shannon Beeman
January 28, 2015

The Institute today announced that eight teams have been named semi-finalists of the annual University-wide Michigan Business Challenge and four have advanced to the competition’s Social Impact Track finals. More than 80 teams of students from across the University applied and competed in Round 1 of this year’s multi-round business plan competition, demonstrating the value of these types of action-based learning programs.

“The Michigan Business Challenge gives students a real-world experience entrenched in the business creation process that they’ll face as entrepreneurs,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “Every year, students walk away with the tools and knowledge that broaden their skill set and help them get ahead of the competition.”

As teams advance through the Michigan Business Challenge, they are exposed to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process with deliverables due at each round. Winning teams have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling more than $75,000. In addition to funding, students gain valuable feedback from judges and expand their business network with entrepreneurs and prospective investors.

Eight Teams Named Semi-finalists

Each of the 80 teams that entered the competition delivered a three-minute pitch to a panel of judges. Following the pitches, the judges chose 22 of the most promising teams to advance to the next round. Round 2 of the competition took place on Friday, Jan. 23, where eight teams were named semi-finalists. From medical devices to online marketplaces to sustainability concepts, this year’s teams represent a variety of industries. They are:

  • Companion – Peer-to-peer safety network that lets people keep each other safe and alert
  • CubeWorks – Glucose monitoring with millimeter-scale sensors that can be easily implanted to take measurements, store data and transmit to a user wirelessly
  • Galeni – Cups for tremor patients
  • Glyde Co. – Proprietary technology brings the snowboarding experience to the pavement while fostering a progressive lifestyle based upon art, music and social ideas
  • Graduate – Platform for students and parents that tracks students’ progress toward high school graduation
  • RainDance Recovery – Recycles wastewater so that it doesn’t require disposal and instead may be put to use
  • Stethos – Stethoscope attachment that converts a traditional, mechanical stethoscope to a digital stethoscope with the ability to record sounds
  • Unfettered Energy – Harnesses electromagnetic energy to power devices wirelessly

This year’s teams were judged by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and distinguished Ross faculty. Among this year’s judges at Round 1 and Round 2 were:

New to this year’s competition is the Social Impact Track, presented in partnership with the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute and the Center for Social Impact, which was introduced to stimulate the creation of new businesses, products or services that prioritize social and/or environmental considerations. Finalists for this track include:

  • BetterHope – an online marketplace for products that make a meaningful social impact by creating safe and sustainable jobs for producers around the world
  • Blueprints for Pangaea – proves accessible healthcare to communities in emergent nations
  • LessonReel – High-quality, K-12 lesson materials and videos developed by top teachers for use by fellow teachers
  • Victory Vocational & Business Center – a social enterprise in Ghana with the mission to empower unemployed youth by providing vocational education and connecting them with jobs after training

The semi-finals and finals will be held on Friday, February 20 from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Ross School of Business. This will be immediately followed by an award reception that is open to the public and where the Institute’s Dare to Dream grant recipients will also be announced.