Duke Students Secure $50,000 in Funding in Entrepreneurship Competition
DURHAM, N.C. -- MBright, a Durham-based, next-generation digital
display technology company, secured the first-place seed funding of $50,000
in the April 26 Duke Start-Up Challenge.
Nine start-up companies competed for more than $125,000 in seed
capital and services in the final round of the Duke Start-Up Challenge's
multi-stage competition. All of the participating start-up companies
included students from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Pratt
School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Medicine and undergraduate
School of Arts & Sciences.
MBright, which competed in the for-profit competition, 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.
MBright is a diverse start-up comprised of Sangrok Lee, a electrical
engineering PhD candidate at the Pratt School of Engineering, and Brian Feaster
and Franck Violette, both MBA cabdidates at the Fuqua School of Business.
Violette also has earned a PhD in engineering.
Lee thanked Pratt Dean Kristina Johnson, who served as his adviser, for supporting MBright from the beginning, as well as Violette and Feaster for helping with the business plan.
Basically, the money will be used to equip a strong intellectual
property portfolio and to initiate groundwork for prototype
development, Lee said. Marketing strategy and financial projection will be
refined accordingly. Finally and most importantly, the gift will be used
to raise more capital to get the business on track.
iCord, an interactive database of medical teaching cases, captured
$20,000 in funding and services in the Social Enterprise competition.
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 hard-to-destroy
waterproof LED lamp.
Sarah Roberts, a Pratt graduate student in Biomedical Engineering
specializing in cardiac electrophysiology, and Kit Yee Au-Yeung, a Ph.D.
candidate in Biomedical Engineering, focused on the technology. Other
management team members included Duke Law School students to protect the
intellectual property, and Fuqua School of Business students to focus on
marketing and financial considerations.
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.
For more information about the Duke Start-Up Challenge, visit