Skip to content
Main content

Biotechnology Company Wins UT Venture Competition

Giving News

The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (GVLIC), the longest-running investment competition for graduate student entrepreneurs, recently held its 30th annual competition on the UT campus. Often called the “Super Bowl of world business plan competitions,” UT’s Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs sponsors the competition with help from private philanthropy and corporate partners.

Students from the Indian School of Business celebrate their GVLIC win. Their company, Visolis, is developing a biotechnology process to convert biomass into the commodity chemical isoprene.

The grand-prize winner, industrial biotechnology company Visolis, beat out 39 other teams from top graduate programs around the world to receive a prize package worth $75,000.

The package includes office space, mentoring, and consulting at the Austin Technology Incubator; consulting with the McCombs School of Business entrepreneurship faculty; and $25,000 cash. The team also gets to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq OMX Stock Exchange on June 11.

Visolis, representing the Indian School of Business and including team members Akshat Pipersenia, Amrita Dutta, Aditya Jain, Ashish Kohli, and Deepak Dugar, is developing the next generation of biocatalysts that can convert renewable feedstocks into chemicals and fuels at a price point competitive with petroleum-based processes.

The first runners-up were Dan Kleinbaum and Luke Kyohere, graduate students from the Texas Master of Science in Technology Commercialization Program, whose startup, Beyonic Technologies, has developed a mobile payment platform for use in the developing world.

Seismos, founded by Texas MSTC students Panos Adamopoulos, Omar Hernandez, Stevan Slusher, and Devin Bedwell, won the $20,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize. Seismos provides real-time measurements of oil and gas flows for enhanced oil recovery. The Wells Fargo Clean Energy track was part of the competition for a second year, with enhanced prize money this year thanks to Wells Fargo’s increased commitment and funding to Texas Venture Labs.

Seismos also won first place in February’s Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, as well as additional competitions at Rice University and UC Berkeley. Altogether, Seismos has won more than $45,000 in cash and about $100,000 in services and non-cash awards this competition season, says team member Panos Adamopoulos. “This is all thanks to the MSTC program,” he says. “We thank all the McCombs faculty and people who have been of such great help.”

This year’s GVLIC had an especially strong international presence. Eleven countries were represented, and 40 percent of the competing teams came from schools outside the United States. “We had a truly global final this year, with two of the four teams in the finals coming from outside the U.S.,” says GVLIC Director Robert Warren. “Visolis did an excellent job presenting their venture and responding to the judges’ questions, and we are excited they are the 2013 Venture Labs Investment Competition’s Global Champion.”

Rounding out the finals were AGcerez from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration in Thailand and BriteSeed from Northwestern University in Illinois. AGcerez produces L’amai, the world’s first longan-extracted probiotic sweetener. BriteSeed offers SafeSnips, a patent-pending technology that integrates with minimally invasive surgical tools to prevent accidental cuts into blood vessels. Team members are Paul Fehrenbacher and Jonathan Gunn.

GVLIC is a unique partnership that brings together graduate students and business leaders in a simulation of the real-world process of raising venture capital. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation all influence the judges’ decisions. Begun at UT as “Moot Corp” by MBA students in 1984, the competition is the oldest new-venture competition in the world.

The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, named in 2012 for Fort Worth businessman and entrepreneur Jon Brumley when he gave more than $6 million to help it grow, promotes new venture creation at UT through education and mentoring, market and business plan validation, team building and networking, and direct links to resources and funding.

See also:

The Class That’s Shaping Austin’s Startup Scene

Art Work

Monday, June 19, 2017

Real (Estate) World Experience

Monday, June 19, 2017

Building the Future of Nursing

Monday, April 17, 2017

Taking Action

Monday, April 17, 2017

Practical Activism

Monday, April 17, 2017

Read More News