Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

News Release

Fourth-Annual Entrepreneurship Competition Held. Fuqua School of Business and Pratt School of Engineering Students Secure $50,000 in Funding

April 29, 2003


startup_challenge_logo_2003_april24 DURHAM, NC- On April 26, 2003, nine start-up companies competed for over $125,000 in seed capital and services in the final round of the Duke Start-Up Challenge’s multi-stage competition. MBright, a Durham-based next-generation digital display technology company, secured the first place seed funding of $50,000 in the for-profit competition. iCord, an interactive database of medical teaching cases, captured $20,000 in funding and services in the Social Enterprise competition.

MBright is a diverse start-up whose management team includes MBA candidates Brian Feaster and Franck Violette from The Fuqua School of Business. MBright will use the funding to begin production on its third generation liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) digital projection light engine. This engine promises to provide enhanced brightness and contrast for digital image projection, at a size much smaller than contemporary projectors. Says Violette, “It has been an amazing and stimulating experience [to] transform a concept into a business idea, drawing on our complementary experiences and applying what we learned here at Fuqua.” Engineering Ph.D. candidate Sangrok Lee from the Pratt School of Engineering, who also served on the management team for MBright realizes that placing first place in the competition “is the culmination of many hours of discussion, late night model building and sometimes frustration, but was well worth the effort.”

In addition to the funding for MBright and iCord, two other teams took home seed capital. Intracardia’s concept was a minimally invasive surgical procedure for closing undesirable openings in the heart with technology designed by Pratt students. It secured the $20,000 runner-up funding as did Mongo Light Company’s product, a highly indestructible, waterproof LED lamp.

Last year’s winning company, SunDance Genetics, was recently named one of Fortune magazine’s hot start-ups of 2002. SunDance Genetics used its seed funding from the Duke Start-Up Challenge to run additional field tests on its drought- and disease-resistant seeds. Since the win, SunDance Genetics signed a licensing agreement with one of the nation’s largest foundation seed companies and a royalty-free license with the United Nations to help stamp out hunger in developing countries.

All of the participating start-up companies included students from The Fuqua School of Business, Pratt School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Medicine, and undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences. This year’s Duke Start-Up Challenge cements Duke University’s support of entrepreneurship in the Southeast and across the nation.

About The Duke Start-Up Challenge

The Duke Start-Up Challenge, an organization of Duke University, provides entrepreneurial leadership in the Southeast and promotes entrepreneurship across the nation. The Duke Start-Up Challenge organizes and sponsors a three-phase entrepreneurial competition held annually to award over $125,000 in seed capital for promising start-up companies – the largest competition of its kind in the nation. For more information, please visit www.dukestartupchallenge.org.