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Fifth-Annual Entrepreneurship Competition Results

Diverse team of engineering professionals and business students secures $50,000 in funding

April 25, 2004

On Saturday, April 24, 2004 eight start-up companies competed for nearly $100,000 in seed capital and services in the final round of the Duke Start-Up Challenge’s multi-stage competition. Optopo, a computational optical sensor system company, secured the first place seed funding of $50,000 in the Commercial Enterprise competition. The Sandbox Learning Company, a web-based education solution for parents and professionals working with autistic children, captured $10,000 in funding and services in the Social Enterprise competition.

Optopo is a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals and Fuqua School of Business MBAs and has developed a new technology for computational optical sensor systems. Optopo’s technology significantly reduces the cost, size, weight, processing time, bandwidth requirements and power consumption for equipment like spectrometers, cameras and positioning sensors. Optopo also took home the $5,000 People’s Choice Award.

In addition to the funding for Optopo and The Sandbox Learning Company, two other teams secured seed capital. First runner-up Sonotrak captured $15,000 for developing a proprietary needle guide attachment that fits currently available ultrasound transducers, provides on-screen, real-time feedback, and allows a medical practitioner to directly target the site of interest. Second runner-up J3 Medtech secured $10,000 in funding to develop a noninvasive ultrasonic screening test for the malignant transformation of pigmented skin lesions (malignant melanoma).

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. In its fifth year, the 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. Entering its fifth year, the Duke Start-Up Challenge - the largest competition of its kind in the nation - organizes and sponsors a three-phase entrepreneurial competition held annually to award up to $100,000 in seed capital for promising start-up companies. For more information, visit www.dukestartupchallenge.org.