2011 Rice University Business Plan Competition to Award $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize

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Total Prizes at the 2011 Rice Business Plan Competition to Exceed $1Million

“We are excited to be committing seed funding again to the RBPC. Each year, we are impressed with the quality of ideas and businesses presented at the competition, and the talent of the entrepreneurs that lead them." Ned Hill, DFJ Mercury

Unique and marketable university spin-out technology will be the key to winning the $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize at the 2011 Rice Business Plan Competition, April 14-16, at Rice University. Teams from 42 of the world’s top graduate schools will participate this year in the overall business plan competition, which has a total prize pool of more than $1 million in prizes. Teams may apply to compete until February 18, 2011 at http://www.alliance.rice.edu/rbpc.

The purpose of the DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Prize is to encourage the commercialization of university technologies, or those technologies developed by faculty, researchers, and/or students at universities.

To be considered a university spin-out, the business plan can be based on a start-up company that licenses technology from a single or multiple universities, and/or a company led by a student team from a university.

“Since inception of the Rice Business Plan Competition, we have held the belief and mission that this competition is not merely an academic exercise, but a true launch pad for viable businesses,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. “DFJ Mercury’s participation in the competition has validated our mission and has led to more venture capital firms supporting the RBPC, such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers this year. In addition to their leadership in this area, the expertise and insights the DFJ Mercury judges bring to the competition is extremely valuable for our competitors.”

The award is open to any industry or technology sector and teams from any university around the world will be considered. Members of the DFJ Mercury investment team will select the winner of this award. DFJ Mercury has been involved with the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship programs since the founding of the Rice Alliance in 1999. Dan Watkins, a managing director of DFJ Mercury, was also a co-founder of the Rice Alliance.

“We are excited to be committing seed funding again to a participating company in the RBPC,” said Ned Hill, managing director of DFJ Mercury. “Each year, we are increasingly impressed with the quality of ideas and businesses presented at this competition, including the talent, experience and high energy of the entrepreneurs that lead them. In fact, many of our top-performing portfolio companies are university spin-outs, specifically where DFJ Mercury was the seed investor, so we view this as a real investment opportunity rather than a prize or grant."

In 2010, the DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Award went to Ambiq Micro, a fabless semiconductor company that has developed the world's most energy-efficient microcontroller from technology originally developed at the University of Michigan. After winning the award from the Rice Business Plan Competition, Ambiq Micro won the DFJ-Cisco Business Plan Competition and closed a $2.4 million Series A Preferred investment. The round was led by DFJ Mercury and included strategic investment from Cisco, ARM, and additional venture investment from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Huron River Ventures, University of Michigan’s Frankel Commercialization Fund, and a number of independent angel investors.

“Ambiq Micro is an excellent example of the type of company that has been able to combine innovation, talent and business acumen to create a world-class solution. We are excited to be supporting their business endeavor to bring ultra-low power microcontrollers to market and look forward to extending our support to another disruptive technology start-up,” added Hill.

The winner of the $100,000 DFJ Mercury Tech Transfer Investment Award will be announced at the Rice University Business Plan Competition Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, April 16, 2011 at the InterContinental Houston Hotel by representatives from DFJ Mercury.

About DFJ Mercury
DFJ Mercury is a seed and startup venture capital firm. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, DFJ Mercury invests in compelling and novel information technology and science-based startup opportunities. DFJ Mercury seeks to partner with extraordinary entrepreneurs to build globally competitive businesses, focusing on technology innovation in the U.S. Midcontinent. Our team has broad experience and relationships with tech transfer offices and regional technology incubators, and appreciates hard science with solid intellectual property. Our firm has a particular focus on university spin-outs and incubation, often investing prior to a business plan or management team being formed.

Since inception in 2005, DFJ Mercury has become one of the most active seed funds in the Midcontinent, becoming a "go-to" venture firm for entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of idea generation, company formation, and market execution. DFJ Mercury is a partner in the DFJ Global Network of venture funds.
For more information, please visit http://www.dfjmercury.com.

About the Rice University Business Plan Competition
The Rice University Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level business plan competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship which is Rice University's flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship.

This is the 10th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1 million in cash and prizes in 2011.

In 2010, intents to compete increased to nearly 420 teams from around the world from 340 the previous year. More than 120 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition. Two hundred and fifty plus venture capitalists and other investors from around the country volunteer their time to judge the competition, with more than half of the judges coming from the investment sector. In total, more than 105 past competitors have launched their business and are in business today having raised more than $286 million in funding.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s nationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies. It was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business in collaboration with the Vice Provost and the Office of Research.

Since inception, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 start-ups which have raised more than half-a-billion dollars in early-stage capital. More than 1000 companies have presented at the 125+ programs hosted by the Rice Alliance.http://www.alliance.rice.edu.

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