– 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 StanfordUniversity,
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 Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology
Council. The Tech Council produces the contest.

Graphene Solutions grew out of work Hamilton,
Streich and other collaborators published this spring in Advanced Materials, a
scientific journal. Hamilton’s
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:


Business Services:
Van Krzywicki, Pea Pod Homes LLC:
This SturgeonBay
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,
Helios America,

which is a camping gear company.


Technology: Dan van der Weide, Optametra.
This Verona start-up firm has developed complex
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 Mobile Social
; and third place went to Daniel
Kunkel, ESAN.


Life Sciences: Jeff
Williams, Platypus.
This Madison
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.


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 Milwaukee.
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 BPC
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;; 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)                                        Eau Claire

William Schwan           Mycophyte
Discovery (cystic fibrosis drug)                La Crosse

Jingxi Sun                    Semiconductor Lighting
(street lights)                          Madison

Matthew Barbian         Helios America (camping gear)                                                Madison

Scott Daigger               Sandbox International (innovation
process)                 Madison

Chao Xie                     GeoNet
(location-oriented mobile social network) 

Jeffrey Williams          Portable Asthma Monitor                                             Madison

David Zethmayr           High-speed data transfer                                              Mauston

Barbara Israel              Echometrix (ultrasound diagnosis)                               Mt.Horeb

Peter Petit                     V-Glass
(energy-saving glass)                                      Pewaukee

James Hamilton           Graphene Solutions
(nanotechnology)                        Platteville

Kimberly Trygar          Semi-Automatic
Pill/Liquid Dispenser                                     Pleasant

Sheila Milbrath                        2DX2
Geothermal Systems, Inc                                   Racine

Ann Hippensteel          Solar Flair (TM) (photovoltaic
sculpture)                     SturgeonBay

Van Krzywicki                        Pea Pod Homes LLC                                                    SturgeonBay

Timothy Lohman         AfibAlert
(medical device)                                          Sussex

Daniel van der Weide  Optametra (complex signal analysis)                           Verona

James Schroeder          Personalized Orthopaedic Implants                              Waukesha

Michael Miller                         NxtMile
(over-40 running shoe)                                  Waunakee

Brian Wroblewski        Golf Pipeline (Online tee time reservations)                Milwaukee

Chris Meyer                 ParallelKingdom
(Online role play game)                   Edgerton

Tim Richter                  Keywee (personal computing
experience)                   Milwaukee

Keith Agoada               Sky Vegetables (rooftop produce
farming)                  Madison