Morgan Competition

Aaron Trembath makes the winning presentation for NanoBio Interface Systems, which claimed the $20,000 first prize in the Morgan Competition's Black Division for undergraduate students.(Photo by John Underwood)

Annual Innovations

Diabetic testing device and cancer care technique claim top prizes at Morgan competition

Physics doctoral student Ran An was prepared and confident about making his team’s presentation to judges about a startup business idea centering on a biological imaging technique for personalized cancer care.

But to take the top prize at the 2013 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition was far more than he expected. “It’s a great start,” An says. "Our dream starts here."

With An’s presentation, Animated Dynamics won the $30,000 top prize in the Gold Division for its efforts to commercialize a new laboratory approach for helping select the best anticancer drugs for patients. Using tissue dynamics spectroscopy (TDS), An along with Purdue physics professors David Nolte and John Turek are developing the technique, which captures dynamic cellular motions deep inside living tissue.

NanoBio Interface Systems (NBI) claimed the $20,000 first prize in the Black Division for undergraduate students. The company, led by Purdue communications and philosophy major Aaron Trembath, is developing a nanotechnology-based in vitro diagnostics company advancing a novel technique for testing blood sugar levels.

Trembath says he learned a lot from the judges’ feedback when he won $2,500 as a finalist in the same competition in 2011 for his concept, WalkThrough, which provides customers with a modular interior visualization of walls that will be built in construction of a custom home as opposed to a 3-D view. But the day of this year’s presentation didn’t come without a lot of time and effort.

“I hadn’t slept for three days leading up to the competition,” he says. “But it’s incredibly exciting to win, especially with the caliber of the competing presentations. This definitely adds a new level of credibility to our efforts.”

Each team had 20 minutes to present its plans and 10 minutes for questions from the panel of 10 judges during the event at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Sponsors for the event, marking its 26th year, are the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Ice Miller LLC, Purdue's Krannert School of Management and the Purdue Research Park.

"This is an incredible accomplishment for all 10 student-led presentations just to make the finals, with nearly 100 proposals submitted when this process started months ago," says Krannert Dean Emeritus Rick Cosier, the Avrum and Joyce Gray Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and Purdue's Leeds Professor of Management.

"Every student leaves this competition a winner, but Animated Dynamics and NanoBio rose above the rest in their presentations and how close they are to becoming real companies contributing to our economy and helping society."