UCSD’s Biological Dynamics a Finalist in Global Contest for $250K Prize
Biological Dynamics, an early stage cancer diagnostics company founded by UC San Diego grad student Raj Krishnan, has raised more than $47,000 in startup capital by winning cash prizes in business plan competitions and other academic contests. Now Krishnan tells me he’s one of 16 finalists in a global competition for university and business-school students that provides a minimum seed investment of $250,000 in venture capital funding for the first-place team.
Final presentations are set for today, using Web-based technology from San Jose, CA-base Cisco Systems to enable each of the finalists to discuss their business plans with a San Jose-based panel of seasoned investors from Menlo Park, CA-venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), its Global Network of Funds, and Cisco. The winner of the inaugural DFJ Cisco Global Business Plan Competition will be announced in a 30-minute webcast this evening by the organizers, DFJ and Cisco.
Biological Dynamics is developing a multi-cancer diagnostic tool based on a discovery Krishnan made while conducting experiments in high-conductance dielectrophoresis. The technology uses a microelectrode array to detect “high molecular weight” DNA, an early cancer biomarker, directly from whole blood samples. Amid a continuing drought in startup funding, Krishnan began raising capital for his medical diagnostics company by systematically entering symposia, poster sessions, and business plan contests that offered cash prizes and services to winners.
To make the finals in the DFJ Cisco competition, “We were selected from over 1,000 business plans worldwide,” Krishnan says in a recent e-mail. “This is the largest and biggest single payout business plan competition there is (as far as I know).” Biological Dynamics was the only team from San Diego to make the finals.
“Winning this competition would enable our company to get enough money ($250,000) to really start our business and begin construction of a final prototype,” Krishnan tells me. “We are already in talks with several companies about what our device can do, but the hardest money to come by in this economy is seed investment.”
Krishnan says VCs and other potential investors prefer “to invest in companies that are already at Series A or greater, because they want to minimize risk while maximizing reward. We feel that this competition is one of the few ways left right now that can enable translation of successful business ideas that people might be reluctant to invest in because of the economy.”
In a recent joint statement, DFJ and Cisco say the 16 finalists represent universities and business schools throughout the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Israel. “Our review process considered the management team, technical innovation, addressable market size, competitive positioning, barriers, capital efficiency, and financial projections,” the sponsors said.
Xconomy’s Juha-Pekka Tikka (who’s returning home to Helsinki today) profiled Krishnan and Biological Dynamics last month after the 27-year-old bioengineering doctoral candidate won the spring presentation in the UCSD Entrepreneur Challenge. The first place winner of the UCSD business plan competition took home $25,000 in cash and $15,000 in legal services from the San Diego office of the DLA Piper law firm.
Krishnan says he’s won 14 awards for a total of $47,240 in cash and services since 2007, when he got just $15 for a third-place showing in a UCSD Bioengineering Graduate Student Symposium.