– Graphene Solutions, a nanotechnology company that features a 17-year-old
student on its scientific team, is the grand prize winner in the 2008 Wisconsin
Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
The company, led by UW-Platteville chemistry professor Jim
Hamilton and CEO Philip Jackson, has patent-pending technology that could
transform electronics, optics and materials science. Philip Streich, a student
who takes classes at Platteville and online through
is co-inventor of the firm’s platform for dissolving carbon nanotubes, graphene
nanosheets and other materials so they can be purified and spread in a layer
one atom thick.
Fifty-four judges took part in a process that progressively
narrowed a field of 250 entries to 51 semi-finalists, 23 finalists and four
category winners in Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Information
Technology and Life Sciences. Graphene Solutions was the winner in the Advanced
Manufacturing category and will collect cash and in-kind prizes worth $50,000.
“Graphene Solutions proves that game-changing technologies
are being produced on UW System campuses as well as the UW-Madison. It also
demonstrates the value to our economy of supporting researchers as they move
these technologies from the lab to the marketplace,” said
Council. The Tech Council produces the contest.
Graphene Solutions grew out of work
Streich and other collaborators published this spring in Advanced Materials, a
lab has dissolved graphene and made single-particle carbon nanotubes that don’t
clump together in bundles, something other scientists have been unable to do.
Electrons travel 100 times faster in graphene (one-atom-thick sheets of carbon
that form in an incredibly strong lattice) than in silicon. Possible uses of
graphene range from television screens that are no thicker than a poster, to
computer chips, batteries, sensors, solar cells and medical devices. Winners in
other categories were:
Van Krzywicki, Pea Pod Homes LLC: This
company will design and distribute solar home packages that rely on
patent-pending computer modeling and a unique combination of building materials.
Second place in this category was awarded to Keith Agoada, Sky Vegetables, a rooftop produce farming business;
and third place went to Matthew Barbian,
which is a camping gear company.
Technology: Dan van der Weide, Optametra. This
optical modulation test equipment that can hasten deployment of long-haul
optical fiber, which is used to transmit data.
Second place was awarded to Chao
Xie, GeoNet: Location-oriented
Network; and third place went to Daniel
Life Sciences: Jeff
Williams, Platypus. This
firm is developing a handheld nitric oxide monitor with liquid crystal sensor
technology to provide low-cost, convenient tests for asthma and other diseases.
Second place in this category was awarded to Timothy Lohman, AfibAlert, a medical device company; and third
place went to Barbara Israel, Echometrix,
an ultrasound diagnosis idea.
Manufacturing: Second place in this category went toKimberly Trygar,Semi-Automatic
Pill and Liquid Dispensers; third place went to Jingxi Sun of Semiconductor Lighting, an energy-saving technology
for street lights.
Winners in the contest were announced Monday at the
Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in
They will share in $200,000 in prizes, including cash,
offers of a year’s free rent in a business or tech park, legal services,
accounting services, information technology services and media-related services.
Please see a full list of sponsors below.
This year’s crop of finalists also includes products or
services in energy generation or conservation, “social networking” building,
drug research and production and water treatment technology. Other novel ideas
in the final round include an online role-playing game, an online tee time reservation
system, a running shoe for over-40 athletes and photovoltaic sculpture that
generates electricity and doubles as an outdoor ornament.
Contestants submitted a 20-page business plan for review by
a panel of 54 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the independent,
non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and
the Legislature. Each plan described the core product or service, defined the
customer base, estimated the size of the market, identified competition, listed
members of the management team and provided key financial data.
The finalists’ executive summaries as well as those filed by
semi-finalists are available for inspection by accredited investors through the
Wisconsin Angel Network, which has 27 member angel networks, private equity
funds or corporate strategic partners.
Sponsors for the 2008
are: Aberdean Consulting LLC;
American Transmission Co.; API Software;
Associated Bank; The Boldt Company; CG Schmidt Co.; EarthIT; Fitchburg Technology
Campus; Foley & Lardner LLP; The Gialamas Company; J.P. Cullen & Sons;
Johnson Block CPAs; Journal Interactive, the digital media division of Journal
Communications, Inc.; Loughrin Accounting & Tax Service; Marshfield Clinic
Applied Sciences; Madison Gas & Electric Co.; McAllen TECH Campus; Michael
Best & Friedrich LLP; Midwest Airlines; Palo Alto Software, Inc.; Quarles
& Brady LLP; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.; Ruedebusch Development &
Construction; Smith & Gesteland LLP; State of Wisconsin Investment Board;
TDS Telecom; University Research Park; Wisconsin Department of Commerce;
WisBusiness.com; Wisconsin Angel Network; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.; and the
Wisconsin Technology Council.
Finalists in the fifth annual contest are:
Daniel Kunkel ESAN (mailbox monitoring)
William Schwan Mycophyte
Discovery (cystic fibrosis drug)
Jingxi Sun Semiconductor Lighting
Matthew Barbian Helios
Scott Daigger Sandbox International (innovation
Chao Xie GeoNet
(location-oriented mobile social network)
Jeffrey Williams Portable Asthma Monitor
David Zethmayr High-speed data transfer Mauston
Barbara Israel Echometrix (ultrasound diagnosis)
Peter Petit V-Glass
(energy-saving glass) Pewaukee
James Hamilton Graphene Solutions
Kimberly Trygar Semi-Automatic
Pill/Liquid Dispenser Pleasant
Sheila Milbrath 2DX2
Geothermal Systems, Inc
Ann Hippensteel Solar Flair (TM) (photovoltaic
Van Krzywicki Pea Pod Homes LLC
Timothy Lohman AfibAlert
Daniel van der Weide Optametra (complex signal analysis)
James Schroeder Personalized Orthopaedic Implants
Michael Miller NxtMile
(over-40 running shoe) Waunakee
Brian Wroblewski Golf Pipeline (Online tee time reservations)
(Online role play game) Edgerton
Tim Richter Keywee (personal computing
Keith Agoada Sky Vegetables (rooftop produce