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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. in engineering.

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 www.dukestartupchallenge.org.