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Maryland and Arkansas Teams Win ORNL Global Venture Challenge

Tom Ballard, ORNL's director of partnerships, Doug Kaempf, program manager for the DOE's Industrial Technology Program and ORNL lab director Thom Mason present University of Maryland bioengineering Ph.D. students Matthew Dowling and Peter Thomas their Global Venture Challenge first-place check for $25,000. Dowling and Thomas submitted technology for the security division of the challenge.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 26, 2010 — Graduate students from the University of Arkansas and the University of Maryland received first place at the 2010 Global Venture Challenge that was hosted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory March 24-26. The challenge is a competition that brings together students developing new technology in the two tracks of energy and security and venture investors with expertise in the marketplace.

Douglas Hutchings, Stephen Ritterbush and Seth Shumate, a doctoral student in microelectronics and photonics, from the University of Arkansas won first place in the energy division for their energy company Silicon Solar Solutions.

"Our method replaces the expensive top layer of solar cells with a thinner, large- grain polysilicon at lower temperatures, which reduces cost and is appealing to manufacturers," said Ritterbush, an M.B.A. student.

Matthew Dowling, Peter Thomas and Oluwatosin Ogunsola of the University of Maryland won first place in the security division for their company Remedium Technologies, Inc,, which produces a sprayable hemostat. Dowling and Thomas, doctoral students in bioengineering, said that, unlike hemostats that treat superficial wounds, their Kytoclot technology is a portable, pressurized foam that provides needed compression and protection to wounds within the body cavity. Traditionally, intracavitary wounds have almost always required surgery to prevent hemorrhage-related deaths.

"Currently there is no market for a product like this. The Department of Defense, the military, would be our first potential customer because they have a great need for this sort of product, which can sustain a lot of different temperatures and quickly stops bleeding," Dowling said.

Twenty-two teams of graduate students from five countries traveled to Oak Ridge to present new technology products that satisfy current market demands. In its fourth year, Global Venture Challenge has grown significantly in the last year.

"We have really expanded our reach globally with applications from 44 teams in eight countries, and that's a record," said Tom Rogers, director of the Industrial and Economic Development Partnerships Directorate, said. "Many of the judges have said that the technology this year is far superior to prior years. Every year it gets bigger and better."

More than 50 judges, including judges from 15 venture capital firms, selected winners based on the quality of the technology and the product's projected strength in the marketplace.

Rogers said several teams from past years are now in business and several of the teams that presented this year are already on their way. Dowling said Remedium Technologies, Inc. has already garnered capital from start-up investors, and Silicon Solar Solutions is in the process of speaking with manufacturers.

During the three-day competition, students toured ORNL facilities, met with Lab Director Thom Mason and attended a Venture showcase highlighting cutting-edge technology being developed at ORNL.

The two first-place teams were awarded $25,000 each. First runner-up teams EconoSun of Purdue University and Delta R Detection of the University of Florida received $10,000 each. Second runner-up teams GLADteam of the University of Alberta, Carnegie Mellon University, Maastricht University and Indentizyme Defense Tech of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill received $5,000, and six honorable-mention teams received $1,000 each.

Prize money and travel stipends were funded by sponsors, including the Department of Energy's Industrial Technology Program, the Department of Homeland Security's Community & Regional Resilience Institute, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Battelle Ventures, The National Institute for Hometown Security, the National Venture Capital Association, the East Tennessee Economic Council and Meritus Ventures.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. --by Katie Freeman