Venture teams of students from the Lundquist College of Business and the School of Law at the University of Oregon are making waves around the world as they take top prizes in national and international business plan contests. Perpetua and CleanSmart have won three out of five competitions entered, flying far and wide to compete against the world's best universities and colleges. Perpetua, in particular, has logged more than 20,000 air miles, with several competitions still to go.
At the Venture Challenge competition held in mid-March at San Diego State University, the CleanSmart team won first place and the Grand Champion award of $15,000. CleanSmart's win came a mere six days after the team took top honors at the Can-Am Bowl Business Plan Competition held at the University of Manitoba. CleanSmart left Canada with winnings of $10,000 (CDN), a $100,000 (CDN) credit to be used at a science research park, and an automatic invitation to the 2005 Moot Corp competition held at the University of Texas in May. Team members are David Grove, Eric Brunsvold, and William Glasson.
Meanwhile, halfway around the globe, the Perpetua venture team placed second in the Asia Moot Corp contest in Bangkok, Thailand. Perpetua entered the Asian competition strong, buoyed by a first-place $10,000 prize at the CinCom Spirit of Enterprise Business Plan Competition held at the University of Cincinnati in late February. Also at CinCom, Perpetua received $1,000 for the top technology business plan and an automatic invitation to the 2005 Moot Corp competition in Texas. Team members are Jed Cahill, Jon Hofmeister, Lars Juel, Clayton Jones, and Mason Adair.
Both teams are advised by Don Upson, an adjunct professor at the Lundquist College of Business. Upson teaches the New Venture Planning class in the fall, in which venture teams prepare their business plans.
The competitions benefit both the students and the university, according to Upson. "These experiences make each student stronger, more confident, and more attractive to potential employers," Upson said. "They also build the school's reputation among entrepreneurship university programs and its relationships with technology providers, donors, and student recruits."
Upson's endorsement of the competitions was echoed by Randy Swangard, director of the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship and an adviser to the New Venture Planning class and the venture teams. "We continue to get validation that our entrepreneurship program and students are among the best in the world," Swangard said. "These students have spent hundreds of hours researching, evolving, and perfecting their plans and presentations. They and their advisers are to be congratulated for their success in creating viable, fundable ventures."
Perpetua's winning business plan centers on the Perpetua Harvester, a battery substitute that, as the team's name implies, lasts indefinitely. Based on patent-pending technology developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), the Harvester generates electricity using naturally occurring differences in temperature and offers an extremely long-life power source for small devices.
With technology also from PNNL, CleanSmart created a plan for a patent-pending, environmentally benign process that removes a toxic preservative from treated wood, leaving clean and resalable wood material and chemicals. The plan targets markets in Europe that are cleaning up hazardous waste.
Both teams developed their business plans and presentations in Upson's Fall 2004 New Venture Planning class. Before the class, the teams formed in the summer of 2004 as part of the Technology Entrepreneurship Fellows Program (TEFP). TEFP is a unique summer internship partnership among the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at the Lundquist College of Business, the UO's Office of Technology Transfer, Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Law and Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Oregon School of Law.