Auburn team reaches finals of Alabama Launchpad competition

AUBURN – What started as an interdisciplinary class at Auburn University has evolved into a business plan that’s landed one of the top nine spots in this year’s Alabama Launchpad Governor’s Business Plan Competition.

Alabama Launchpad is a partnership between the state’s university, business and economic development communities to encourage and support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship in Alabama. Their annual business plan competition helps start-up companies with seed capital and advice, and is open to ventures affiliated with any of several in-state universities.

Launchpad awards $175,000 a year in capital to the top three business plan submissions – including a $100,000 grand prize. Recently, an Auburn University team, Construction Solutions, was named one of nine finalists. Each of the nine remaining teams will present its business plans at the finals in Huntsville on April 16, where the winners will be announced.

Construction Solutions focuses on the commercialization of inventions which stemmed from a joint class between Auburn’s Department of Industrial Design and the McWhorter School of Building Science. This annual class develops real solutions to real problems in the trillion dollar construction industry. Industrial design professor Tsailu Liu and building science professors Paul Holley and Steve Williams, all past or current teachers of the class, contributed significantly to the plan.

Construction Solutions is the fourth team featuring Auburn technology to reach the finals of Alabama Launchpad in the competition’s four year history. OcuMedic won the inaugural Alabama Launchpad competition in 2007. Led by Mark Byrne of the Department of Chemical Engineering, OcuMedic is developing an ocular drug delivery technology based on therapeutic contact lenses. Two other teams, led by Paul Swamidass of the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management, also have reached the finals, including one based on a carpet recycling technology that has resulted in a new business venture.

The success of Construction Solutions exemplifies Auburn University’s increased focus on start-up activity and local economic development. This represents the first time that Auburn’s Office of Technology Transfer, or OTT, a division of the Office of the Vice President for Research, initiated the creation of a Launchpad plan and a full team from scratch. Using in-house staff, MBA interns, course instructors and outside reviewers, OTT joined with two Auburn alumni from the private sector to build the plan, including an initial core management team, to launch the company and to present at the Launchpad finals.

For more information, contact John Weete, acting assistant vice president for research for technology transfer and commercialization, at (334) 844-7480 or weetejd@auburn.edu.

Contact: John Weete, (334) 844-7480 (weetejd@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)