SOURCE: Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks

May 24, 2006 09:57 ET

UMass Amherst Students Win Technology Innovation Challenge Sponsored by Wolf Greenfield

Company Would Use Nanotechnology for Cancer Drug Delivery

AMHERST, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 24, 2006 -- An interdisciplinary team of graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst won a $45,000 competition for the best entrepreneurial technology business plan developed by students on campus. They proposed a new company that would develop drug delivery platforms for targeting cancer and making chemotherapy more effective.

The competition was the keystone of the Technology Innovation Challenge (TIC), primarily sponsored by Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., a Boston- based intellectual property law firm. Two of Wolf Greenfield's attorneys, Edward R. Gates and Robert E. Hunt, also served as judges for the competition.

The winning three-person team proposed a company called Pharma Solutus, which would develop polymeric nanotechnology drug delivery platforms for targeting cancer and making chemotherapy more effective. The technology would concentrate drugs at the tumor site, reduce side effects, and improve ability to control and sustain the release of the anticancer drug.

"We are delighted to help launch this exciting new program at UMass Amherst," said Wolf Greenfield's Gates. "Bob Hunt and I enjoyed following the teams' progress as judges, and we look forward to Pharma Solutus's commercial success one day," he said.

TIC promotes innovation education based on technology conceived by faculty, students and alumni of UMass Amherst. Teams are composed of students and consulting faculty members who are experts in technology. The goal is for each team to conceptualize a product with regard to its scientific and technological design, and then create a business plan for the product's commercialization.

"The future of business education is in collaboration with engineering and science to bring innovative ideas to the market more quickly," says Thomas O'Brien, dean of the Isenberg School of Management. "The Technology Innovation Challenge is a wonderful incubator for students and entrepreneurs. It encourages the best kind of competition and learning."

The Pharma Solutus team members include two chemical engineering doctoral candidates; Sarvesh Agrawal and Bing Mei, and Lindsay Devin, an MBA candidate in the Isenberg School. The winning team's faculty advisors are Surita Bhatia of chemical engineering and Gregory Tew of polymer science and engineering.

"The award money will give us a running start to making Pharma Solutus a reality, but even more valuable is the confidence and advice we gained through the competition," Bing said. "We intend to use the money to start laboratory testing and to attend conferences to learn more about current technologies and increase our network."

The winners received $20,000 in cash and will be given an additional $25,000 in stages, provided they advance their business plan to create a corporation and file for patents.

The competition is the brainchild of Michael F. Malone, dean of the COE, and Soren Bisgaard, the Eugene M. Isenberg Professor of Technology Management. Malone and Bisgaard established the TIC last year as a structured competition that promotes innovation education based on technology conceived by faculty, students and alumni of UMass Amherst. Teams are composed of students working in consultation with faculty members who are experts in technology. Each team conceptualizes a product with regard to its scientific and technological design and then creates a business plan for its commercialization.

Other competition sponsors include UMass Amherst alumni Eric Janszen, Takis Sparaggis, Steve Collins and Scott Perry. Additional support has come from Long River Ventures of Hadley, Forge Partners LLC., and Ronnie and Eugene Isenberg.

Founded in 1927, Wolf Greenfield in Boston (www.wolfgreenfield.com) is one of the most experienced law firms specializing in intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, licensing, trade secrets and litigation.

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