BioE Students, Alumni Win Prizes at UM $75K Business Plan Competition

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Above: Aeramatics receives the Biotechnology Category Award. Below: CloudSolar receives a Warren Citrin Social Impact Award.

Two startup companies whose members include past and present students from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering won prizes and honors at the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute's 2010 $75K Business Plan Competition. The companies, Aeramatics and CloudSolar, represented two of the three finalists selected for the competition's biotechnology category.

Aeramatics, whose members include Himali Fernando (B.S. '09), won the biotechnology category and $15,000 to further the development of their product, InSpiro, a spirometer (a device used to measure the volume of air patients are able to inhale and exhale). InSpiro improves over current equipment—which in some cases is up to 30 years old—thanks to its easier-to-handle size and abilities to remind patients to use it, track prescribed usage, and set targets. Increased patient compliance will reduce post-operative complications, longer hospital stays, and the need for additional respiratory therapists. Aeramatics has a provisional patent on the technology and has built a prototype.

CloudSolar, whose members include bioengineering graduate student Michael Armani (advised by Associate Professor Benjamin Shapiro), received a Warren Citrin Social Impact Award and $5000 for their design of a rooftop solar energy system that can be used to heat swimming pools 62% more efficiently than similar, currently available products. The CloudSolar system uses a patent-pending biofluid to capture more heat. With over three million heated pools in the United States, the product can help extend the swimming season while substantially reducing heating costs. The team estimates that over a ten-year lifespan, each CloudSolar installation could save over 625,000 acres of trees or 315 million gallons of fuel.

Also in the finals in the high technology category was PoLiion, a startup led by Professor Peter Kofinas that is developing a polymer electrolyte to enable smaller, safer, and flexible batteries. This was the third year in a row that one of Kofinas' companies reached the final round of the competition. In 2009 and 2008, Trauma Solutions (then Haemachanics) and Intelligent Packaging Systems won their divisions.

The $75K Business Plan Competition, held annually by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, promotes the commercialization of innovative ideas and University-created technologies by offering faculty, students, and alumni prizes for the best new venture plans. The competition emphasizes learning by offering one-on-one coaching for finalists, as well as the experience of presenting ideas to an experienced panel of judges. Companies active in the competition have generated millions in revenues, grants and awards.

To Learn More:

Visit the $75K Business Plan Competition web site »

Published May 10, 2010