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Pharmaceutics Ph.D. Student Wins Grand Prize in Innovation Competition

Pharmaceutics student John Hoekman, along with MBA students Michael Hite and Peter Olagunju, recently took first place in the UW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) 2008 Business Plan Competition.

At an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 22, the team received the Real Networks $25,000 grand prize and a $5,000 prize in the best-idea category for their business concept. Hoekman and his teammates proposed to create a business that commercializes a new direct-to-brain drug-delivery technology that treats Parkinson’s, brain cancer and other central nervous system diseases. This technology allows for a safer way to treat these diseases than more-traditional methods. The team’s business, Impel NeuroPharma, would use already approved pharmaceuticals and new biotechnology products.

Almost 90 student teams entered the CIE competition. CIE, part of the UW Foster School of Business, emphasizes entrepreneurship among business-school students. This year’s Business Plan Competition enlisted more than 300 judges from the entrepreneurial community across the state. The top four teams went through multiple rounds of judging.

Since the competition began in 1998, a total of $757,000 has gone to student teams, according to the CIE’s website. The competition has helped launch the careers of hundreds of successful entrepreneurs.

John and his teammates are in Silicon Valley, Calif., this week competing for the $250,000 grand prize at the 4th Annual Draper Fisher Jurvetson Venture Challenge — a West Coast venture-capital competition. Other institutions participating in the challenge include the California Polytechnic State University, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

-May 28, 2008


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