Values and Ventures

Life sciences firms rise to the top of an eighth annual international collegiate business plan competition at TCU.

Life sciences ideas rose to the top of the competition at this year’s TCU Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Competition, the university’s eighth annual April international collegiate business plan contest.

The $25,000 grand prize winner: Students from a University of Iowa team, ABAL Therapeutics, which automates facets of standard autism treatment, broadening access to children. Logan Grote, a computer science major, pitched the team’s idea, which he said also decreases clinic time and costs for the 750,000 U.S. children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. “We don’t want to replace the therapist,” Grote told the judges. “We want to build a better scalpel.”

Second place winner ($15,000, plus another $5,000 for winning the contest’s Founders Award): Grand Valley State University’s Orindi team, for its cold endurance masks, which help children with asthma play outdoors during the winter. For every two masks sold for industrial use, Orindi says it donates one to the American Asthma Foundation. “The human-centered design will help prevent the pain and panic of an asthma attack when children play outdoors in cold weather,” said Jordan Vanderham, who pitched Orindi at the contest.

Third place and the $10,000 award: University of Chicago for Sink Guard, to combat bacteria in hospitals and help prevent 100,000 deaths annually that result from diseases acquired from bacteria while in the hospital. The team originally set out to figure out a way to kill bacteria but ended up redesigning sink drains to ensure bacteria washed down could not come back up. “Can we save lives with a $50 device? Yes,” Ted Engels, the Chicago student who pitched the plan, told the judges.

Teams from 55 universities competed in the two-day contest, with more than 50 entrepreneurs, investors and bankers serving as judges. More information: