Mendoza School of Business

Cancer detection test takes grand prize in Notre Dame business plan competition

Published: April 14, 2014 / Author: Christine Cox

team with a business plan for a simple test that detects oral cancer took the grand
prize of $25,000 Friday in the 15th McCloskey Business Plan Competition at the
University of Notre Dame Mendoza
College of Business
. NanDio competed against five other teams in the final
round of the competition, which was sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship
at Mendoza. The competition awarded $300,000 in cash and prizes.

excellent business plan certainly reflects the prestige of our competition and the
outstanding work of our students. But, more important, this technology promises
to save lives,” said Karen Slaggert,
associate director of the Gigot Center. “While NanDio’s business plan stood
out, it was very difficult to choose a winner this year as it is each year. There
were a variety of presentations and all were outstanding.”

noted the competition drew 450 participants this year, the largest number of
entrants in the competition’s history. Judges and organizes were also impressed
by the number of teams that featured combinations of current students and
alumni. All teams in the competition must include at least one Notre Dame
full-time student, alumnus/alumna or faculty member. Plans must be for ventures
that have not launched or are in the early stages of operations.

NanDio seeks to commercialize technology that allows
dentists to test for early detection of HPV oral cancer during a patient’s visit.
The lab-on-a-chip device detects RNA changes in saliva that indicate cancer before
symptoms appear. The technology promises to improve odds of survival by up to
90 percent.

is comprised of Benjamin Miller MBA ’14;
Ryan Huhn ’15; Patrick Riley MBA ’14; Marcy Kreimier MSPL ’14; Patrick Rice
ESTEEM ’14; and Sharon Stack, professor
of chemistry and biochemistry and the Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley director
of the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute at Notre Dame.

Along with adviser Gaylene Anderson, senior
commercialization officer at the Cleveland Clinic, the NanDio team focused its
efforts on biomarkers and a novel membrane sensor technology. The biomarkers
were developed at the Harper Institute by
Stack and graduate student Ben Miller. The membrane sensor was developed by
Zdenek Slouka, a postdoctoral associate in Notre Dame’s Center for Microfluidics and Medical Diagnostics (CMMD); Satyajyoti Senapati, a
research professor in the Department of
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
, and Hsueh-Chia Chang, the
Bayer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the
CMMD. Chang and Senapati are members of the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics
 at Notre Dame. The research was supported by a
Walther Cancer Foundation grant to professors Chang and Stack.

McCloskey victory is the second competition win for NanDio, which took top
honors at the Brown-Fourman Cardinal Challenge sponsored by and held at the
University of Louisville College of Business in February. The team also was
selected to participate in the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition in
Houston, Texas on Friday. The team’s presentation at Mendoza’s Jordan
Auditorium was shown through video.

The runner-up of the McCloskey competition and winner of $5,000 was
Preferral, a digital patient referral and pre-screening service for
health care organizations developed by Jon Gautsch BBA ’14.

Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact of $15,000 was awarded to Reading
for Life, which reduces juvenile recidivism and illiteracy through great
stories and classic virtues. The venture also won $1,000 for the Vogel Family
Prize for Best Venture Fair Pitch. That team is comprised of Alesha Seroczynski
PhD ’99, Thomas Flaim BBA ’16, Chris Jacques BBA ’13, Mara Stolee BBA ’14, Amy
Jobst and Alisa Zornig.

Sutherland Family Award for Best Presentation of $5,000 went to SPOUTS of
Water, a nonprofit venture aimed at
providing an ongoing source of clean water in Uganda.

Other finalists were Cocoon
Biotech, which seeks to advance the treatment of osteoarthritis through silk
technology, and Global Green Logistics, a recycling operation in Panama
City, Panama.

McCloskey competition consists of four rounds over nine months. A total of 149 teams
entered the competition in the fall. In December, 111 teams were invited to continue and write
their business plans. Twelve semifinalists were invited to present to a panel
of judges on April 10. The judges narrowed the field to the six teams for the
final round of live presentations.

said 234 judges and mentors participated in this year’s contest. During the process, the Gigot Center provided significant
resources, including an entrepreneurial toolkit of software, mentoring,
networking, and feedback.

The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship was founded in 1998 for the purpose
of fostering innovation and infusing aspiring entrepreneurs with a sense of the
possible. Through rigorous coursework, business plan competitions, extensive
networking and mentorship, and hands-on learning experiences, the center
provides students with the knowledge and skills vital to entrepreneurship.

For more information about the Gigot Center, visit



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