Wharton School Team Wins University of San Francisco 2004 International Business Plan Competition - MicroMRI of the Wharton School Takes Home Pacific Specialty Insurance $10,000 Grand Prize. See Complete Results of the USF Entrepreneur Contest at http://www.BusinessPlanCompetition.org

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The University of San Francisco 2004 International Business Plan Competition is one of the most competitive events of its kind, with over 150 graduate student entrepreneur team applications from 100 universities in 18 countries around the world. A Wharton School Team, MicroMRI, took first place, with a team from the Univ. of Georgia, ThruSkin Technologies, coming in second. Please find complete results at http://www.BusinessPlanCompetition.org.

We are delighted to announce the results of the University of San Francisco 2004 International Business Plan Competition. The USF contest, one of the most competitive events of its kind, with over 150 graduate student entrepreneur team applications from 100 universities in 18 countries around the world, for the 25 semifinalist positions, was an exciting, enriching, and exhausting experience for everyone involved. The intense competition to present at USF is driven largely by the world-class caliber and quantity of the venture capitalist partners and CEOs that judge the event. This year’s contest included more than 50 judges representing many leading venture capital firms (e.g., Asset Management, Garage Technology Ventures, Hummer Winblad, and Kleiner Perkins), investment banking firms (e.g., Pacific Growth Equities), law firms (e.g., Hanson Bridgett), commercial companies (e.g., Pacific Specialty Insurance), entrepreneurs (e.g., NAPSTER founder Shawn Fanning), and government agencies (e.g., NASA).

The USF Entrepreneur Contest was held March 31 to April 3, 2004 at the USF Lone Mountain Campus and the Hyatt, SF Fisherman’s Wharf. The agenda included: warm-up/feedback sessions on the first day with a mixer in the evening, a cable car tour of San Francisco and elevator pitch contest on the second day, semifinal sessions and a formal dinner on the third day, and a final round session and wine-tasting awards reception on the fourth day.

Naturally, all of the semifinalists that competed at the USF Contest were winners in their own right, receiving extensive exposure to and feedback from leading Silicon Valley venture capitalists and senior executives. The venture capitalists judging the event were clearly impressed with the semifinalist teams they saw. For example, Joe Mandato, partner with De Novo Ventures, indicated, “The quality of the teams spoke volumes on USF's growing recognition as a leading center of global entrepreneurship.” Ian Patrick Sobieski, general partner of the Band of Angels Fund, added, “The event was packed with innovators and their innovations. It was both a business opportunity and intellectual feast."

At least seven entrepreneur teams that were approached by venture capitalists for further discussions during or shortly after the contest. Ronald DiFelice, a finalist from the University of North Carolina, for his company, Alpha V, confirmed, “The competition was a great experience - we received invaluable feedback about the business and the exposure for the company was immense. We ended up having five solid contacts to follow up with after the event." David Vinca, a finalist from the University of Chicago for his company, Ripula, echoed this sentiment, saying, “The judges represented the best VC funds in the San Francisco area. The judges were honest, constructive, and in some cases very encouraging! Finally, the organizers planned an event (down to the important details) that encouraged networking and facilitated important feedback for the business plan teams. The competition far exceeded our expectations." Team faculty advisors also found the time and effort for the trip to USF worthwhile. Steven J. DeKrey, Ph.D., associate dean, and director, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, commented, “Many thanks for your heroic efforts in hosting such an exceptional competition. It was by all accounts world class and a joy to attend. … My team, Free to GOal, learned a great deal and will carry these lessons through their lifetime."

We expect that most of the teams that competed at USF will prosper in their chosen ventures, and we look forward to supporting their efforts and tracking and reporting their progress over the coming months and years. We invite graduate student entrepreneur teams from all nations to apply to compete at the USF 2005 Contest (http://www.BusinessPlanCompetition.org).

In the following we provide the list of the USF 2004 International Business Plan Competition finalist teams.

Grand Champion - Pacific Specialty Insurance $10,000 prize - MicroMRI - University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School;

Second Place Winner - $3000 prize Thru-Skin Technologies - University of Georgia;

4 Finalists - $1000 prizes

Alpha V - University of North Carolina

(And Elevator Pitch Contest - Second Place - $500)

LoDrag Inc. - University of Texas at Austin

(And Elevator Pitch Contest Winner - $1000)

OrganoDevice Technologies - Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign & Purdue University

Ripula - University of Chicago Graduate School of Business

Please find complete results at http://www.BusinessPlanCompetition.org.

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Professor Mark V. Cannice, Ph.D.