PASADENA—Two Caltech start-up companies—one that turns small home computers into a supercomputer and another that improves existing proteins—are this year's winners of the Caltech 10K Business Plan Competition.
The annual awards are presented jointly by Caltech's Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering (CNSE) and Caltech graduate and entrepreneur Glenn Hightower to encourage, appraise, and promote business ideas from within the Caltech community. The two $10,000 prizes represent an investment designed to serve as start-up capital for the new venture.
Winner of the $10,000 Glenn Hightower Prize is the start-up company Duragene, whose technology improves the thermal and chemical stability of existing proteins for chemical, pharmaceutical, and industrial applications. Founded by Caltech graduate students Yi Tang, Pin Wang, and David Flanagan, the burgeoning company will use the prize money to set up business in the Pasadena area.
This year's winner of the CNSE Prize is Simulant Inc., a company creating sophisticated software tools permitting a number of inexpensive computers to function as a supercomputer. The company's founders are undergraduates Michael Hochberg and Tom Baehr-Jones, and Caltech electrical engineering professor Axel Scherer.
In addition to the prize money, other start-up aid can come from organizations supporting the competition and may offer the new venture professional and business services.
According to Dean Schonfeld, the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering's manager of technology transfer, the competition aims to create new industry through the formation of new companies. "We hope to encourage students to make the transition from the academic world to the business world," he says.
The awards will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, at the Enterprise Forum meeting in Ramo Auditorium on the Caltech campus. Media representatives are invited to attend.