Three Auburn University entrepreneur teams among 13 finalists in Alabama Launchpad Competition

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Three Auburn University entrepreneur teams are among 13 finalists competing for a share of $100,000 in the 2013 Alabama Launchpad Start-Up Competition’s proof of commercial relevance round, announced recently by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation.

The finalists were chosen from a field of 22 entrants by a five-judge panel comprised of entrepreneurs, investors and corporate stakeholders. The competition is designed to promote innovative ventures that have the potential to grow and thrive in the state.

“This really speaks well of Auburn University and our high-tech community,” said Brian Wright, associate director of commercialization in Auburn’s Office of Technology Transfer and a member of two of the teams. “These teams are a testament to the world-class research and technology being developed at Auburn, as well as the inventive and entrepreneurial spirit of the students.”

“Three teams from Auburn making the finals of the Launchpad Competition demonstrates our increased emphasis on commercialization and linking our research enterprise to economic development,” said John Weete, assistant vice president for technology transfer and commercialization.

The three finalist entries connected to Auburn University are Carbon NanoTube Engineered Surfaces, LifeTech and Porcera.

Carbon NanoTube Engineered Surfaces, or CNTES, enhances the surface composition of composite materials, improving interlaminate strength by as much as 40 percent. The team leader is Adam Ficken, a recent master’s degree graduate and former Office of Technology Transfer intern. Team members include Brian Wright of the Office of Technology Transfer and Xinyu Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering.

LifeTech changes a cell phone or tablet computer into an automated external defibrillator at a moment’s notice. The team leader is Thomas Moore, a senior student in entrepreneurship and family business. Tommy Foote, a recent graduate of the nursing program at Southern Union, is a team member.

Porcera is a preventative and therapeutic solution to combat porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, or PRRSV, the swine industry’s biggest problem. The team leader is Robert Koski, a senior student in the Department of Biological Sciences. Team members include Brian Wright, Doug Warrington and Troy Brady of the Office of Technology Transfer; Marc Ford, a graduate student in the College of Business and intern in the Office of Technology Transfer; and Bernhard Kaltenboeck, professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Teams will compete in the second round March 4 to show proof of commercial relevance as they submit business plans and give presentations. A final round will involve a revised business plan and market assessment, with the winner being announced May 3.

Alabama Launchpad, started seven years ago, is a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation. The program receives support from six partnering universities: Auburn University, Alabama State University, the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama. More information is available at

(Written by Charles Martin.)

Contacts: Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing (334) 844-9999, (, or Brian Wright, Office of Technology Transfer, (334) 844-7962 (