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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Bioengineering Grad Students are Finalists in $250K Global Business Plan Competition

San Diego, CA, June 26, 2009 -- University of California, San Diego bioengineering graduate students led by Raj Krishnan are among just 16 finalist teams from across the globe who will compete on June 30, 2009 for $250,000 in a global business plan competition. The competition is open to student teams who have either been sponsored directly by a DFJ member or have won a regional qualifier such as a university-wide competition. It is sponsored by Cisco and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) an early-stage venture capital firm.  (Update: Xconomy San Diego covered this story on June 30.)

Krishnan wins again
Biological Dynamics, led by Raj Krishnan (center), took first place at the 2009 UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge.
Raj Krishnan is the leader of Biological Dynamics, a UC San Diego student-driven startup aimed at inexpensive early detection systems for cancer. Krishnan and Biological Dynamics have earned a long list of awards this year at the department, school, university, regional, and UC system level

“Winning this global business plan competition would be a huge step forward. We have the business plan, the intellectual property, and the drive to make this work. To have the opportunity to save lives and improve the way cancer is diagnosed around the world, we need a funding boost,” said Krishnan, who recently won $17,500 in legal services and $27,000 in cash at the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge. They used the cash winnings to secure intellectual property for their company, Biological Dynamics.

Krishnan works at the intersection of bioengineering, nanoengineering and medicine. His new technology offers a better way to identify and separate secondary cancer biomarkers directly from blood, such as cell-free circulating high molecular weight DNA. In addition to cancer diagnostics, Krishnan’s suite of novel technologies can be used to manipulate cancer cells and stem cells in a simple manner using AC Electric Fields. This improved method for manipulating cells could save researchers large amounts of time and money.

Krishnan performs his research in the laboratories of Jacobs School of Engineering professor Michael J. Heller, who is affiliated with the Departments of NanoEngineering and Bioengineering at UC San Diego. “What is really important about this research,” said Heller, “is that it has led to a viable diagnostic approach that will now allow an important early cancer biomarker—cell free circulating DNA—to be detected directly from a blood sample in a rapid and cost effective manner.”

“Winning first prize for quality of graduate research at the department, school and university and UC-system level is absolutely outstanding. This highly significant accomplishment is a testament to Raj’s fine research,” said Shankar Subramaniam, Chair and Professor of the Department of Bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Subramaniam is also an associate director of UC San Diego’s Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM).

“Clearly global innovation doesn’t stop for recessions,” said Tim Draper, managing director, DFJ. “These promising candidates are reminding us that there are pioneering companies out there, even in difficult times, and we hope that one of these teams creates the next Skype, Google, Facebook, Baidu or Cisco.”

The plans of the 16 finalists, many of which have already won local university competitions, were selected from thousands of eligible business plans in nine countries across the globe. The selection was based on various criteria including quality of management team, technical innovation, addressable market size, competitive positioning, barriers, capital efficiency, and financial projections. The majority of the finalists are still in the early stages of business development. In addition to the financial investment awarded to the winner, both DFJ and Cisco will assist the winner and finalists in leading the next wave of disruptive technologies by providing mentorship and professional assessments regarding their submissions.

“Cisco has always supported and nurtured entrepreneurial vision, in good times as well as in difficult times, and we’re excited to help evaluate the dynamic technologies and business plans put forth by these talented finalists,” said Hilton Romanski, vice president of corporate development for Cisco. “The global reach of this competition emphasizes the reality that connecting great ideas and the people who have them is no longer constrained by geographic boundaries. These 16 finalists will travel to a single boardroom in Silicon Valley without a single one of them having to physically leave their home country. This is the power of Cisco TelePresence.”

The competition will use Cisco TelePresence to allow the finalists to present their business plans to a San Jose-based panel of seasoned investors from DFJ, its Global Network of Funds and Cisco.

Competitors and the media will be invited to view the competition via simulcast beginning at 8 a.m. PDT on June 30, and the winner will be announced at 6:30 p.m. PDT the same day.

Please contact Kristin Carvell at Cisco if you are a member of the media interested in attending the competition or viewing it via a live webcast.

Finalists hail from 15 different schools in six countries. The complete list is as follows:

Name of Company

Company Location


Business Plan Summary
The finalist's business plan is based on technology that provides:

80 Legs


Rice University

A grid computing system for running applications that need to analyze massive amounts of web content quickly and affordably.



University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology

Power-efficient, acoustic processors that improve speech perception for hearing aids.

Biological Dynamics


UC San Diego

Point-of-care multi-cancer screening tool that detects early cancer biomarker directly from whole blood.



Cornell University

A paperless receipt solution that enables consumers to manage receipts online and provides product-level market data to consumer product companies.



Stanford University

Innovative drip irrigation systems that can be manufactured and profitably distributed to small farmers in developing countries.

Five Minutes


University of Southern California

Innovative online social games including Happy Farm, the number one social game in China.


Husk Power Systems


University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

Miniature power-plants that cost-effectively convert rice husks into electricity, serving off-grid rural Indian villages.

iCore Software


Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

OS-level virtualization software enabling multiple secure high-performance virtual machines on a Microsoft Windows desktop.



LBS College of Engineering

An SMS text messaging interface for trivia and other information for 300 million Indian cell phone subscribers.

Mengtian Biotech


Fudan University

A fast-acting, low-cost and environmentally-friendly process for treating papermaking wastewater.



University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

An online marketplace for the sale or exchange of unwanted gift cards.




Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

An advanced smart-home technology platform to monitor and interact with appliances and the electric grid for the efficient use of energy in the home.



Stanford University

Assistance for enterprise users to manage the growing volume of e-mail and to seamlessly embrace new messaging media.

Trauma Solutions


University of Maryland

The first and only synthetic hemostatic material capable of simultaneously inducing blood clotting and delivering therapeutics.



Tel-Aviv University

A mobile thin client and server platform for migrating any software application to any smartphone, regardless of operating system and handset type.

ZeroWatt Technologies


UC Irvine

A significant reduction in the power consumption of analog-to-digital converters, a key component of essential devices such as cell phones, laptops and biomedical implants.

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