Two student teams from the University of Michigan selected to vie for more than $1M in prizes at Rice Business Plan Competition

Shannon Beeman
March 31, 2016

World’s richest and largest student startup competition launches new People’s Choice Competition

Chosen from nearly 400 entrants, two University of Michiganstudent teams, Neurable and PreDxion Bio, will compete with some of the world’s top universities for more than $1 million in prizes at the 16th annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice UniversityApril 14-16.

This year, teams will compete for $5,000 online in the People’s Choice Competition that challenges the spirit of each university. Team members, fellow students, alumni, family and friends can vote for their favorite team via a Facebook survey. People can participate by going to

Neurable, co-founded by Ramses Alcaide (PhD Neuroscience ’16) and Michael Thompson (MBA ’17), has created the first non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) that allows for real-time control of software and physical objects. Neurable’s fully functional prototype incorporates proprietary, patent-protected technology developed at the University of Michigan’s Direct Brain Interface Lab. Neurable’s technology has already allowed people to control wheelchairs, robots and even a full sized car in real-time with no training and a significantly lower cost than existing BCI technologies. Neurable was a finalist in the 2016 Michigan Business Challenge (MBC).

University of Michigan Ross School of Business Startup PreDxionCo-founded by Walker McHugh (MSE Biomedical/Medical Engineering ’17) and Caroline Landau (MBA ’16), PreDxion Bio is a precision medicine diagnostics company with a beachhead product called MicroKine, a patent-pending near-bedside diagnostic device that measures certain proteins (“cytokines”) in the blood of critically-ill patients.  MicroKine delivers this information at the bedside, in less than 30 minutes, from a single drop of blood, providing physicians with the information to precisely tailor treatments to a specific patient’s immune response. Earlier this year, PreDxion took home the Pryor-Hale award for best business for $25,000, and the Williamson Award for $5,000 for the most outstanding business and engineering team at MBC.

“The true measure of success for the Rice Business Plan Competition is the number of teams that launch, raise funding and go on to succeed in their business,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, which hosts the event. “The competition has served as the launch pad for a great number of successful entrepreneurial ventures, and the success rate exceeds the national average.”

University of Michigan Ross School of Business Startup NeurableThe winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition will take home a grand prize valued at more than $450,000, including seed funding and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ Marketsite. Judges select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.

“Events like the Rice Business Plan Competition allow University of Michigan students to showcase their ventures, commercializing technologies developed at the university,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “These opportunities allow students to raise funding and gain traction in front of a wider community of investors and business leaders. We are proud of the tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and drive shown by PreDxion and Neurable, and are confident that the resources they’ve received from the Zell Lurie Institute will help them achieve even greater success.”

More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition, which includes 275 judges from the investment sector and awards more than $1 million in prizes. Top prizes include the $250,000 Investment Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, two OWL Investment Prizes totaling at nearly $250,000 and the $100,000 Mercury Fund Tech Transfer Investment Prize.

For more information on the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition, visit