£5k Finalists - 2009

On Monday 16th March, Coventry University Entrepreneurs announced the Finalists for the £5k phase of its annual Entrepreneurs' Challenge. Entrants had to convince the judges about the merits of their idea and the quality of their teams via an Extended Executive Summary.

A total of 25 entries were judged across three streams of the competition and 12 of those have have persuaded the judges to find out more. These lucky teams will spend the next 6 weeks writing their Business Plans for the final stage. The Finalists are:

AngioSplice, Foresight Pharmaceuticals, Gemstone, HivioSense, InDerm, iSolve, Magenta, MedTech, MetaAlternative, Operation Solar, PharmaWheels and Winter Willow.

We would also like to thank the generous support of our sponsors that makes this competition possible. They are ARM, Red Gate Software, Philips, Taylor Vinters and Coventry Science Park.

Please click read more to learn about the Finalists' Cocktail Party and the winning teams.

The £5k Finalists' Cocktail Party

12 Coventry start-ups, have earned the right to present their business cases to a team of seasonsed investors and entrepreneurs.

Matt Schofield, CEO of Coventry Network and founding President of CUE, provided a straightforward message about how Coventry needs to improve the sucess rates of new businesses. Matt called forward an unsuspecting Tim Minshall, Senior Lecturer at the IfM, to talk about his research into what makes companies successful.

All Finalists were invited to the stage to give a 60 second pitch of their business and discussed their plans over cocktails in the lively Union Bar.

The Finalists

AngioSplice Technology Stream

Lead Entrant: Dawid G. NowakPublic Summary: AngioSplice is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics that modulate angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels. Existing therapies pursue a 'shotgun' approach that silences naturally occurring anti-angiogenic signals along with pathologic pro-angiogenic signals and has the potential for significant off-target toxicities. AngioSplice has identified a novel approach to modulating angiogenesis based on controlling the balance of pro- and anti-angiogenic isoforms of the major angiogenesis signaling molecule, VEGF-A. The AngioSplice approach promises to produce safer, more effective therapies that address the >$5 billion market opportunity for anti-angiogenic therapies in oncology and ophthalmology.

Foresight Pharmaceuticals Technology and Social Enterprise Streams

Lead Entrant: Arjun Goyal

Public Summary:Foresight Pharmaceuticals' (formerly CamMicrobicide) mission is to develop innovative topical hormonal formulations which can be used to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including: HIV, Human Papillomavirus, and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Foresight Pharmaceuticals' lead product, a new and proprietary topical penile formulation, enhances the natural defence mechanisms of men to provide a much improved barrier to virus transmission. Foresight Pharmaceuticals will create commercial, clinical and social value through its: (1) Proprietary core technology; (2) Unique proprietary position enabling accelerated time to market and reduced risk profile; (3) Pursuit of commercial partnerships to develop, both clinically and commercially, the agent to market.

Gemstone Red Gate Software Stream

Lead Entrant: Keng Siew Aloysius HanPublic Summary: Gemstone testing is a tedious process of collecting a gemstone's physical characteristics and subsequently consult tables to reduce the possibilities and advanced literature for further diagnostic tests. A subscription-based online gemmological information corpus and gemstone identification engine that aim to provide quality up-to-date key information at the fingertips of a busy professional, cutting the time spent locating relevant literature significantly. The information corpus capitalizes on community knowledge for growth, quality and maintenance by allowing user input and the engine permits online query of the physical characteristics of an unidentified gemstone for a match.

HivioSense Technology Stream

Lead Entrant: Matthias Havenaar

Public Summary: The burden of HIV is immense. Approximately 22 million HIV tests are conducted in the U.S. annually. This figure is set to rise substantially now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has adopted a more proactive stance to indentify infected individuals. Traditional HIV diagnostics detect human antibodies formed against the virus. HivioSense utilizes novel technologies. By detecting HIV particles directly, Hiviosense will identify HIV faster in a person after he/she becomes infected. It is also more user friendly and cheaper to manufacture than competitor devices. HivioSense will be developed for both over-the-counter and rapid point-of-care use.

InDerm Social Enterprise Stream

Lead Entrant: Sahil Kirpekar

Public Summary: The return of 'The White Plague' in developed parts of the world and the increasing incidence of its drug resistant variety in chronically affected parts has set alarm bells ringing. Tuberculosis is gaining ground. InDerm is a company developing a product, which will address the ever increasing problem of drug resistant TB. The solution is to guarantee 100% compliance amongst people taking treatment for TB, thus avoiding the development of drug resistance strains of tuberculosis bacteria.

iSolve Red Gate Software Stream

Lead Entrant: Oliver Lamming

Public Summary: iSolve is a start-up company developing applications for solving paper-based puzzles using computer vision on a mobile phone. Our first application, The Photographic Sudoku Solver, aims to help all those who get stuck half-way through a Sudoku puzzle in a newspaper or book. Simply by taking a photograph with their iPhone, they will have the solution within seconds. The rapidly-growing market of iPhone applications is just beginning to be tapped and our novel use of computer vision will set the standard for future developers, whilst providing a fun and unique service.

Magenta Technology Stream

Lead Entrant: Cong Cong Bo

Public Summary: Magenta has developed a technology enabling MRI manufacturers to replace the conventional 2m-long superconducting coil with a high-temperature 2cm-diameter magnetic disc that generates at least the same field strength. This not only allows MRIs to be made for a 60% overall cost reduction, but also paves the way into emerging markets for niche MRI applications.

MedTech Social Enterprise Stream

Lead Entrant: David Harvey

Public Summary: Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs) such as MRSA and C. difficile are a serious problem, contributing to approximately 20,000 deaths each year in the UK alone. The Department of Health has identified that the poorly designed commodes currently in the market are a significant contributor to the spread of these infections. By applying a solid understanding of customer needs and good fundamental design we plan to produce a commode which can be cleaned more effectively in less time. This simple, elegant commode re-design will help control infection spread in healthcare, saving many thousands of lives globally.

Meta Alternative Red Gate Software Stream

Lead Entrant: Lyudmila Lugovskaya

Public Summary: Meta Alternative is developing a tool to help software companies optimise and protect their Microsoft .NET products. Being a popular platform, .NET increases programmers' productivity, but at the cost of suboptimal performance and making it possible for others to reverse engineer those products. Meta Alternative has a solution to both of these problems in the form of a software transformation tool that generates an equivalent, but improved program by automatically reducing code redundancies of various types. By passing their applications through this tool, companies will obtain refined versions of their products that will run faster and have better IP protection.

Operation Solar Social Enterprise Stream

Lead Entrant: Allen Chen

Public Summary: There is a silent killer in the kitchens of developing countries. Use of firewood produces toxic fumes that are trapped in small confined spaces, causing almost two million deaths per year globally. There are currently no organizations that make a large-scale contribution toward alleviating this problem. Operation Solar will forge links with corporate partners to increase awareness of the dangers of smoke and distribute and promote use of clean, inexpensive solar cookers that use reflective panels to cook with sunlight.

PharmaWheels Social Enterprise Stream

Lead Entrant: Amal Ismail

Public Summary: PharmaWheels is a not-for-profit mobile pharmacy and health screening unit which will address the unmet basic healthcare and pharmacy service needs in rural Jordan. Over 1.2 million people lack of these essential services, without a single pharmacy outside the main cities. PharmaWheels mission is to deliver essential medications and provide innovative healthcare services that will lead to improved health. PharmaWheels will build a sustainable social enterprise by: (1) fulfilling underserved healthcare needs; (2) creating revenue generating schemes to fund project expansion and sustainability; (3) having a strong founding team and board of advisors with extensive philanthropic and local experience.

Winter Willow Social Enterprise Stream

Lead Entrant: Naomi Jones

Public Summary: Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach Coventry's homeless population the art of willowcraft, and you'll transform lives. Introducing WinterWillow; a social enterprise operating through 'WinterComfort for the Homeless'. We seek to empower disadvantaged members of society by training and employing them in a business that encompasses an entire supply chain from willow cultivation, to manufacturing, to sales and marketing. With a diverse product range centred on bicycle baskets, garden structures and even eco-coffins, we intend to target local and national markets offering quality products that help break the poverty cycle.