MIT Entrepreneurship Competition awards $100,000 grand prize to Diagnostics For All

Diagnostics for All (DFA) 2008 100K winnersThis year's $100K Entrepreneurship Competition winner, Diagnostics For All (DFA), is a not-for-profit that will deliver affordable point-of-care diagnostic solutions to the global medical community. View larger version >>

Energy team's elevator pitch wins text votes for all new $10,000 Audience Prize

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 15, 2008 — A team proposing patent-pending technology for diagnostic tools that will dramatically improve the health care management of patients in developing countries walked away with $100,000 in start-up funds after beating out six remaining finalists during the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition awards ceremony held last night on the MIT campus.

Now in its 19th year, the MIT $100K serves as an economic barometer for emerging markets that are getting funded by venture capitalists. Since its launch, the competition has led to the creation of more than 85 companies with an aggregate market capitalization of approximately $10 billion.

This year's winner, Diagnostics For All (DFA), is a not-for-profit that will deliver affordable point-of-care diagnostic solutions to the global medical community. Based on patent-pending technology developed in world-renowned chemist George Whitesides' laboratory at Harvard University, DFA's offering will serve as a platform for simple, portable, low-cost, and easy-to-dispose diagnostic tools made of paper for developing countries. Field clinicians have applauded DFA for its efforts to date in developing rapid and accurate diagnostic tools for liver, kidney, and metabolic diseases.

DFA secured the grand prize after successfully presenting to a panel of expert judges that included venture capitalists Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks, and Robert Metcalfe, inventor of the Ethernet and founder of 3Com, who also served as the evening's keynote speaker.

An elevator pitch from energy track team finalist Covalent Solar, meanwhile, made a big impression on audience members and earned them the competition's first ever $10,000 Audience Prize. Using audience response system technology provided by $100K mobile semi-finalist team Poll Everywhere, the crowd morphed into a brainy version of American Idol, texting their votes in immediate response to the seven finalists' public summaries of their offerings. Covalent Solar's product is an MIT-invented solar concentrator photovoltaic technology, based on the redirection of light using dyes, which is simpler and less expensive than existing methods.

This year's competitors, which included an initial field of 232 entrants, competed in seven industry tracks — astro/aerospace, biotech, development, energy, mobile, products and services and Web 2.0/IT. The tracks were introduced this year to provide VC partner-level and industry specific mentorship, as well as sponsored prizes leading up to last night's finale.

Along with DFA and Convalent Solar, the majority of the finalists and many of these earlier entrants report that they are planning to launch businesses built around their business plans.

“The competition's finale marked the culmination of a new era of the MIT $100K in delivering the specific industry level support and knowledge required to compete in today's market,” says Jeffrey Sabados, a competition co-lead organizer. “We look forward to working with our growing list of generous sponsors and partners to bring an even greater focus on building a program that turns the very best technologies and ideas at MIT into thriving businesses that change the world.”

Platinum sponsors of the MIT $100K were Brown Rudnick, Goodwin Procter, and Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, P.C. Gold sponsors were Adams Capital Management, The Boston Consulting Group, Mintz Levin, Polaris, and Wilmer Hale.

For more on the MIT $100K, please visit: http://www.mit100k.org/