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Semiconductor technology takes first place in UC Berkeley business plan competition
26 April 2001

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - RAPT Technologies, which has developed a dramatically faster and more cost-effective technology for etching and polishing optical and semiconductor materials, has won the third annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, organized by the MBA students at the Haas School of Business. The three winning teams were announced this week at the University of California, Berkeley, and share more than $90,000 in cash and prizes.

"The quality of the plans was extremely high," said Michael Powell, managing director of Sofinnova Ventures and a final round judge. "The teams all had their acts together. I would have taken any one of these teams to my partners."

RAPT's technology is 10 to 10,000 times faster than existing technologies and operates at atmospheric pressure. The team comprises Haas Evening MBA student Peter Fiske; Jeff Carr of the Manufacturing and Materials Division at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory; and Mona Alves, founder, president and CEO of CHAT Communication Services.

In addition to the $50,000 first prize, RAPT received the $5,000 People's Choice Award, based on votes from the audience- and independent from the judges - at the awards ceremony.

The second prize of $25,000 went to biotechnology venture Aprotea Biochips, which aims to enhance drug discovery with its rapid and easy-to-use protein measurement system. Aprotea developed a patent-pending biochip for parallel analysis of 100 to 10,000 protein samples, and is designed to be bio-compatible with virtually all proteins and capture agent libraries.

Aprotea also won a second prize for best management team in the Haas Social Venture Competition on April 14. The team consists of Haas Evening MBA student Thomas McVey; law student Antonia Sequeira; UCSF PhD candidates Robert Otillar, Kent Duncan and Daniel Ratner; and Eva Raschke, a scientist at Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.

TruVideo, a wireless video infrastructure company, received the third prize of $10,000. TruVideo offers superior digital image quality over broadband compared to existing technologies. The company intends to take advantage of the convergence of wireless technology and the Internet to become the standard video platform for the emerging Web-enabled wireless device market.

The TruVideo team consists of three Haas MBA students, Joseph DelCallar, Steven Stokols and Raj Manghani, as well as engineering undergraduate student Greg Chew and Avideh Zakhor, a UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Nick Sturiale, who graduated from the Haas School last year with an MBA and who was the founding CEO of Timbre Technologies. Timbre Technologies was the semiconductor software company that won the 1999 competition and was recently sold to a Japanese company Tokyo Electron Limited for $138 million.

By bringing ventures led by UC Berkeley students and alumni in touch with Silicon Valley's community of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and technology companies, the competition serves as a springboard for the campus's most innovative ideas and technologies. To date, the finalists of the competition have secured more than $95 million in funding.

More than 65 venture capitalists, angel investors and successful entrepreneurs served as judges and evaluated the submissions. Another 26 entrepreneurs, professors and other professionals served as mentors to the teams that qualified for the first round and helped the teams develop their plans.

Judges for the final round are Steve Domenik, partner of Sevin Rosen Funds; Mark Gorenberg, partner of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners; Susan Mason, venture investor of Onset Ventures, Michael Powell, managing director of Sofinnova Ventures; Michael Rolnick, partner of ComVentures; Chris Rust, partner of Sequoia Capital, and J. Neil Weintraut, general partner of 21st Centure Internet Venture Partners.

Demonstrating broad-based commitment to the competition, venture capital and high-tech sponsors supporting the competition include:

* Corporate Sponsors: CommerceNet, IBM and Synapta.

* Venture Capital Sponsors: ComVentures, Motorola's corporate ventures group, Redleaf and Sevin Rosen Funds.

* General Sponsors, CampSix, Qualcomm, RedHerring, PaloAlto Software, SkyFlow and HotPaper.

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