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Muscling Its Way to Victory
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Apr 30, 2006
More Service and Healthcare stories
MuscleMorph Wins Wharton Business Plan Competition Grand Prize with Novel New Motion Technology; Lightweight, Efficient Motor Uses Polymers to Mimic Biological Muscles For Prosthetics, Robotics

Student team, MuscleMorph, whose technologically advanced motor is lighter, higher performing and more cost efficient than any currently offered, won the $20,000 grand prize of the Wharton Business Plan Competition (http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu). The prize was awarded at the Wharton School’s annual Venture Finals April 25, 2006 where student finalists received a total of $70,000 in combined cash prizes, access to capital and in-kind legal/accounting services.

The students of MuscleMorph, which already won the grand prize of PennVention 2006--an invention competition sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Weiss Technology House-- include Rahul Kothari, a second year Wharton School MBA student from Aurora, Ontario, Canada; Howard Katzenberg, a second year Wharton School MBA student from Rockland County, New York; Kevin Galloway, a University of Pennsylvania PhD candidate in Engineering from Lake Stevens, WA; and Rodrigo Alvarez a Penn alumnus from Mexico City, Mexico.

The 2006 Wharton Business Plan Competition winners are:

-- Grand Prize: $20,000 to MuscleMorph (provider of lightweight motion devices for prosthetic and robotic applications);

-- Second Prize ($10,000) & the Frederick H. Gloeckner Award ($5,000, (for highest ranking undergraduate team) to: IntelliStem (hip implants using proprietary electrical stimulation technology to prevent pain associated with bone loss and ensure long-term effectiveness);

-- Third Prize: $5,000 to Home-Base (call center outsourcing agency that provides first class customer service using spouses of active military personnel as agents working out of their own homes)

-- Finalist Certificates: Biometric Payment Solutions; Focus Therapeutics; iBroker; Leto Pharmaceuticals; OrthoLab Technologies

This year’s Venture Finals, the culminating event of the year-long Wharton BPC, attracted scores of venture capitalists, business leaders, faculty and students. The Venture Finals judges who selected the winning teams represented a range of organizations and included:

-- Art Bilger, W’75, Managing Member of Shelter Capital Partners;

-- Clark Callander, WG’86, Managing Director, Savvian, LLC;

-- Lawrence Lenihan, WG’93, Senior Managing Director, Pequot Ventures;

-- Carol Marino, Vice President, Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.;

-- Sherrill Neff, Managing Partner, Quaker BioVentures

MuscleMorph, the Grand Prize winning team, has filed two provisional patents for its lighter, quieter, more durable motor (or actuator). The device’s technology features electro-active polymers that are uniquely able to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. The technology will allow prosthetic designers greater design flexibility with such users as the 1.8 million amputees in the U.S. In its Venture Finals presentation the team asserted that current motor technology has not advanced significantly in fifty years.

Second place winning team IntelliStem not only won $10,000 for their overall finish, they also won the Frederick H. Gloeckner Award of $5,000 for the highest-ranking Wharton undergraduate team in the Wharton BPC.

Over the years, the Wharton Business Plan Competition, which is open to any University of Pennsylvania student and managed by Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, has seen numerous student teams go on to become successful businesses including PayMyBills.com, BuySafe, NetConversions, Stata Labs, DealMaven, Verge Solutions and MicroMRI.

In fact, grand prize winners from four of the past five years are still in business with several earning millions in revenue and/or financing. Information about past participants is available on the Wharton BPC Web site: http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu.

About the Wharton School and Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs

In 1973, The Wharton School became the first school to develop a fully integrated curriculum of entrepreneurial studies. Today Wharton, through Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs (http://www.wep.wharton.upenn.edu), supports and seeds innovation and entrepreneurship globally through teaching, research and outreach to a range of organizations through its many programs, initiatives and research centers. At the same time, Wharton students and alumni are helping to build entrepreneurial enterprises around the world and impacting virtually every industry.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania—founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school—is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The school has more than 4,600 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA including those at Wharton West , and doctoral students; more than 8,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of more than 81,000 graduates. Wharton at 125: http://www.wharton.upenn.edu

Information
For more information on the Wharton Business Plan Competition, go to: http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu.

Wharton
Peter Winicov, 215-746-6471


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