GlucaGo LLC, a life sciences company led by a trio from Purdue and Indiana universities, captured the 2009 Global Idea to Product Competition and claimed the $10,000 top prize, beating 14 other teams that qualified by winning local competitions.
Held in October in Austin, Texas, the entrepreneurship event featured teams from 19 universities and eight countries — Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, and the United States. The U.S. competitors came from Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New Hampshire.
In addition to winning the McCombs School of Business Global Championship category, GlucaGo received the Best Showcase overall award for developing an emergency kit that automatically mixes and injects medication for diabetics.
Leading the GlucaGo team are Peter Greco, a second-year MBA student at Krannert; Arthur Chlebowski, a doctoral student in Purdue’s biomedical engineering program; and Rush Bartlett, a Purdue doctoral student in biomedical engineering who also is completing an MBA at IU.
"As graduate students with limited financial resources, it’s difficult to get the money to start a business," Greco says. "Because of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a hands-on education, we decided to take a gamble and take out student loans to pay for the prototype. This win means we can continue pursuing the dream to be entrepreneurs."
The annual competition challenges students to create a product concept using innovative technology with a marketing plan that outlines a road map for commercialization. For the first time, the 2009 event was divided into three categories with separate themes: sustainability and clean energy, biomedical technology, and information technology/wireless.
"GlucaGo’s medical delivery device, with an initial market aimed at Type 1 diabetics, faced stiff international and national competition in its category," says Nancy Clement, interim director of Purdue’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. COTEC Portu-gal finished second behind the Purdue-IU team, and Texas A&M was third.
The Purdue-IU team created the technology as part of Purdue’s Biomedship entrepreneurship program, established a limited liability company, and licensed the technology from Purdue’s Office of Technology Commercialization. The team also collaborated with a diabetes specialist at IU’s School of Medicine and worked with the Rose-Hulman Ventures Lab in Terre Haute to create the prototype.
Clement, who served as the competition advisor for the GlucaGo team, believes the company’s delivery system has a reach far beyond the diabetic market.
"The convenient, sterile, and safe mixing method could prove very useful in getting life-saving drugs to areas of the developing world where transportation, refrigeration and electricity are nonexistent," she says. "This product could revolutionize accessibility to medications for people suffering and dying in remote regions of the world."
— Phillip Fiorini
For more information on Purdue’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, visit www.purdue.edu/innovate.