Two University of Michigan Student Startups Selected to Compete for $1.5M in Prizes at Rice Business Plan Competition

Shannon Beeman
April 6, 2017

For the second year in a row, two University of Michigan teams have been selected for the Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas. The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. AIM Tech and Panacea Health were selected to vie for $1.5M in prizes in the 2017 competition.

University of Michigan Startup AIM TechAIM Tech, founded by Stephen John (MD ’19) and Aaron Steiner (MBA ’17), has developed an affordable, high quality, low-tech pressure ventilator to help infants with respiratory illness. Their patent-pending, award-winning NeoVent costs less than 1/100th the price of existing ventilators, is easy to use and requires no electrical power. The technology is already approved for clinical testing and the team plans to implement NeoVent around the world to save millions of infant lives. AIM Tech won the Impact Track at the Michigan Business Challenge as well as the top prize at the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Challenge.

Panacea Health, founded by Avikal Malik (MBA ’17), is developing a mobile/web-based platform for the measurement of post-market approved prescription drugs safety and effectiveness, as well as associated quality of life in real-world patient population. Panacea Health was one of eight semi-finalist teams in the Michigan Business Challenge, and Malik is a participant in the elite Zell Entrepreneur program.

Michigan Ross Startup Zell Lurie Institute The winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition will take home a grand prize valued at more than $450,000, including seed funding. Judges select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.

In 2016, Neurable, co-founded by Ph.D. student Ramses Alcaide and MBA student Michael Thompson, took home the $50,000 second place prize along with a Rice Owls Investment of $280,000. Neurable is spinning out a patented, noninvasive brain-computer interface technology developed at UM’s Direct Brain Interface Lab, which allows real-time control of software and physical objects.

PreDxion Bio, co-founded by engineering master’s student Walker McHugh and MBA student Caroline Landau, claimed a separate $100,000 TiE Boston Angel Investment Prize at the 2016 event, hosted by Rice University. PreDxion Bio is a precision medicine diagnostics company with a product called MicroKine, a near-bedside diagnostic device that can deliver measurement of proteins in the blood of critically ill patients within 30 minutes.

The Rice Business Plan Competition is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which is Rice University’s internationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. This is the 17th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

For more information on the 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition, visit