Georgia State U.’s Aurign wins 2020 Rice Business Plan Competition

Over $1.3 million in prizes awarded in first virtual edition


Jeff Falk: 713-348-6775   |

Avery Ruxer Franklin: 713-348-6327   |

HOUSTON – (June 22, 2020) – Aurign from Georgia State University in Atlanta rose to the top in the 2020 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) hosted June 17-19 by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. The annual event — held virtually for the first time this year, its 20th — is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition, with over $1.3 million in prizes announced and seven teams winning over $100,000 each this year.

Aurign was selected by a panel of judges as the startup with the highest investment potential, taking home $375,000 in cash and prizes. Aurign uses data analytics and blockchain technology to automate music publishing agreements for artists to secure their royalty payments.

Significant prizes this year and the teams that won them include:

* $350,000 GOOSE Capital Investment Grand Prize — Aurign, Georgia State University

* $100,000 Jon Finger and Finger Interests, David Anderson and the Anderson Family Fund, Greg Novak & Tracy Druce Second-Place Investment Prize — nanopathdx, Dartmouth College

* $50,000 Jon Finger and Finger Interests, David Anderson and the Anderson Family Fund, Greg Novak & Tracy Druce Third-Place Investment Prize — Fractal, Harvard University

* $100,000 Houston Angel Network Investment Prize — Fractal, Harvard University

* $100,000 Houston Angel Network Investment Prize — Beltech, University of Chicago

* $100,000 TiE Houston Angel Group Investment Prize — RefresherBoxx, RWTH Aachen University

* $100,000 The Artemis Fund Investment Prize — BIOMILQ, Duke University

* $100,000 TMC Innovation Healthcare Investment Prize — Cardiosense, Northwestern University

* $25,000 NASA Space Exploration Innovation Award — AlgenAir, University of Maryland

* $25,000 NASA Human Health and Performance Award — Cardiosense, Northwestern University

* $25,000 Southwest National Pediatric Device Prize — SlumberFlow, University of Michigan

* $25,000 Southwest National Pediatric Device Prize — Relavo, Johns Hopkins University

* $25,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Investment Prize — Relavo, Johns Hopkins University

* $25,000 Courageous Women Entrepreneurs Investment Prize — nanopathdx, Dartmouth College

* $25,000 Texas Business Hall of Fame Best of Texas Prize — EVA Technologies, Rice University

* $25,000 Pearland Economic Development Corporation Spirit of Entrepreneurship Prize — nanopathdx, Dartmouth College

* $20,000 OFW Law FDA Regulatory Strategy In-Kind Prize — Cardiosense, Northwestern University

* $20,000 Silver Fox Advisors Mentoring In-Kind Prize — EVA Technologies, Rice University; NanoCare, Texas State University; SeebeckCell Technologies, the University of Texas at Arlington

* $15,000 Polsinelli Tech Innovation In-Kind Award — Relavo, Johns Hopkins University

* $15,000 Polsinelli Energy Innovation In-Kind Award — Contraire, Oklahoma State University

* $5,000 Each Capital Factory Golden Ticket In-Kind Prize — EVA Technologies, Rice University; NanoCare, Texas State University; SeebeckCell Technologies, the University of Texas at Arlington

* $4,980 SheSpace Membership In-Kind Prize — nanopathdx, Dartmouth College

* $3,000 Palo Alto Software Outstanding LivePitch Prize — nanopathdx, Dartmouth College

The prizes were announced June 17 to conclude the three-day event.

The OWL Investment Group, which has invested over $3.5 million in past RBPC startups, also participated in the 2020 competition and will announce its prize in the coming weeks if it chooses to invest this year.

The 42 teams came from 39 universities in eight different countries. More than 400 teams applied for the competition, which focuses on three categories: life sciences, energy/clean technology/sustainability, and tech innovation.

The event kicked off with each team making its case in a rapid-fire, 60-second elevator pitch contest on the first day of the competition and in 10-minute investment pitches on the second day.

The seven finalists were:

Aurign, Georgia State University — Grand prize and individual prizes with a total value of $375,000.

The grand prize includes:

  • $350,000 Investment Prize from Goose Capital.
  • Business plan software provided by Palo Alto Software.
  • Opportunity to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York.
  • $25,000 in-kind CFO Prize Consulting from RG Advisory Partners.

nanopathdx, Dartmouth College — second place and a total of over $157,980 in prizes.

Nanopathdx is developing a platform that can sensitively and rapidly identify multiple viral RNA targets directly from a nasal swab.

Fractal, Harvard University — third place and more than $150,000 in total prizes.

Fractal streams Harvard GPU-powered cloud computers at ultralow latency to any internet-connected device for a monthly fee.

RefresherBoxx, RWTH Aachen University — fourth place and more than $105,000 in total prizes, including $5,000 Norton Rose Fulbright Fourth-Place Cash Prize.

RefresherBoxx disinfects, dries and refreshes textiles of any kind without water or chemicals.

Beltech, University of Chicago — fifth place and more than $105,000 in total prizes, including $5,000 EY Fifth-Place Cash Prize.

Beltech is an advanced battery material company which develops, manufactures and distributes critical materials to significantly enhance the performance and safety of lithium-ion batteries.

Cardiosense, Northwestern University — sixth place and more than $150,000 in total prizes, including $5,000 Chevron Technology Ventures Sixth-Place Cash Prize.

Cardiosense is a cardiac monitoring platform that leverages wearables to noninvasively capture hemodynamics such as blood pressure and cardiac output.

Relavo, Johns Hopkins University — seventh place and more than $70,000 in total prizes, including $5,000 Shell Ventures Seventh-Place Cash Prize.

Relavo is a medical device company with technology specifically designed to reduce the risk of infection associated with home peritoneal dialysis by internally disinfecting connected dialysis tubes.

Additionally, KnoNap of Georgetown University won the Elevator Pitch Competition and a $1,000 cash prize from Mercury Fund. The top five elevator pitches were awarded cash prizes.

All competitors will also receive:

  • EFN mentoring
    • Entrepreneur Futures Network (EFN) mentors have offered pre-competition mentoring and advice to each of the 42 teams who have been invited to participate at the 2020 RBPC. They have provided advice in areas such as refining a business plan, refining financial models, and improving presentation skills.
  • Amazon Web Services
    • Amazon Web Services will provide up to $5,000 in service credits for each of the 42 startup teams for 2 years. This comes with 1 year of Business Support (up to $1,500) and opportunities to Qualify for Additional Credits.
  • Support from the more than 140 corporate and private sponsors of the competition.

The RBPC has enhanced the probability of success for student entrepreneurs and their startups by providing mentoring and guidance, deep connections to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and opportunities for engagement. This year’s virtual competition brought together over 225 angel, venture capital and corporate investor judges and some of the most promising startups from around the world.

One upside to the virtual format was the ability to provide a bigger platform for the startups, with more people able to watch the pitches and learn about the companies. The Greater Houston Partnership provided support for moving the competition online.

“For over a decade, the Partnership has enjoyed working alongside Rice University to show the most promising student entrepreneurs from around the world why Houston is the ideal place to bring their technologies to scale,” said Susan Davenport, chief economic development officer for the Greater Houston Partnership. “During these unprecedented times, we are glad that our support has allowed for the first-ever virtual Rice Business Plan Competition.”

Since the RBPC’s inception in 2001, when nine teams competed for $10,000, more than 235 competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today or have successfully sold their ventures. Past competitors have raised over $2.6 billion in funding and created more than 3,700 jobs.

For more information about the RBPC, visit

This news release can be found online at

Photo courtesy of Aurign’s founder Robert Hatcher.


Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.


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