MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (April 13, 2015) – A remedy for Boston's legendary parking woes and a new therapy for a treatment-resistant cancer were among the top winners of the 11th New Ventures business competition, organized by the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program of Tufts Gordon Institute. Winners were selected April 8, the last night of the annual competition, which draws entries from alumni, faculty and staff, and undergraduate and graduate students from across the university.
Fifteen finalist teams competed for $100,000 in cash and in-kind awards in three tracks: general and high tech ventures, life sciences and social impact. Winners represented an array of academic disciplines and solutions for a variety of societal challenges.
Two ventures tied for first place in the general/high tech track: SpotLight Parking and Orange Analytical Devices.
SpotLight Parking is an on-demand service that brings valet parking to the user’s fingertips through a mobile app that enables a customer to drive directly to a destination and be met by a SpotLight-enabled valet able to accept pre-registered credit cards. SpotLight Parking also received both the Stephen and Geraldine Ricci Interdisciplinary Prize, awarded to a project that best demonstrates interdisciplinary engineering design and entrepreneurial spirit, and the Audience Choice Award, given to the highest-potential project as voted by event attendees. The SpotLight team included three current Tufts seniors from the Schools of Arts and Sciences and of Engineering as well as an Arts and Sciences graduate.
Orange Analytical Devices is tapping the rapidly expanding legal marijuana market, estimated to reach a market size of $10 billion by 2018, by creating a simple, portable, low-cost device to measure tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Measurement of these key chemicals can help differentiate cannabis products. The platform can also be reconfigured to serve other markets, such as cosmetics, petroleum and tobacco. Team members included a graduate of Tufts Gordon Institute's Master of Science in engineering management program.
The winner in the new life sciences track was Adecto Pharmaceuticals, for development of a potential new therapy for one of the more lethal breast cancers: triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Current treatment options for TNBC are limited to chemotherapy and radiation; the Adecto team, from Tufts School of Medicine and Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, is developing a new antibody-based therapeutic that targets a protein on the surface of TNBC cells. “In this new track, especially, we can home in on solutions to persistent, debilitating health problems,” said Inge Milde, manager of the competition and interim director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (ELS) program at Tufts.
Taking top honors in the social impact track was the Global Literacy Project, which addresses the importance and cost of increasing the literacy of children in developing nations. After field testing their “Curious Learning System” in five countries, experts developed mobile devices to be used by children to learn early literacy skills. The project could reach 100 million people within a decade. The project team came from Tufts' Center for Reading and Language Research and Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
For offering new solutions to meet the needs of low-income seniors, the AARP Foundation Prize was awarded to MySupport: The Future of Home Care. Geared to Medicaid recipients, MySupport helps to match seniors and their families with support workers who share their values and can help them at home. MySupport, developed by a team that included a 2011 graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences, also placed second in the social impact category.
Speaking at the April 8 event were Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco, and entrepreneur Diane Hessan, CEO of Startup Institute and a Tufts alumna and trustee, who delivered a keynote address. Exhibitions were presented by Tufts entrepreneurial network organizations including Tufts Biomedical Business Club, Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, 180 Degrees Consulting and Tufts Archimedes Project.
Sponsors of New Ventures included the Tufts Institute for Innovation, Burns & Levinson LLP, The Capital Network, Allied Minds, LaunchPlan, Lowenstein Sandler, Cooley LLP, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation, Mass Challenge, Cummings Properties and the Tufts Alumni Thailand Chapter.
The competition entrants represented Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine, as well as the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with which Tufts has joint programs.
The Tufts ELS program is designed for undergraduate students in arts, sciences and engineering who seek an innovative education in entrepreneurship. It is one of the fastest growing minors at the university. Since 2003, more than 4,750 students have enrolled in ELS classes and more than 600 students earned the minor.
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.