A combination of science and business acumen from the University of Rochester and University of California (UC), Berkeley won the $50,000 first prize Wednesday night (April 23) at Purdue University's inaugural Life Sciences Business Plan Competition. Winner Iris AO, Inc. went into the competition with two earlier wins under its belt, including a $50,000 first prize at the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition and $25,000 from the MBA Jungle Business Plan Challenge.

In a harsh funding climate, the contests that were once considered dress rehearsals for the real business world have turned into a source of serious money for life sciences firms seeking a way out of the academic womb.

"There's more interest in these competitions now than ever, because it is so competitive to get to the seed money," said Richard A. Cosier, director of Purdue's Entrepreneurship Center, which launched the competition with $120,000 in cash...

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