Cattle Vaccine, Chip Verification Software Take Top Prizes At 2011 Moot Corp. Competition

TNG Pharmaceuticals, developers of a vaccine to keep cattle free of blood-sucking horn flies, took top prize at the “Moot Corp.” business competition this weekend.

Formally renamed the Venture Labs Investment Competition(VLIC) in 2010, but still widely referred to as “Moot Corp.,” the annual event began in 1984 at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin. At Moot, TNG Pharmaceuticals won a prize package including: $25,000 in cash; a range of free and discounted consulting and business services, and a full-page ad in Inc. magazine. The total value of the prize package, according to a McCombs spokesman is around $135,000.

TNG Pharmaceuticals’ chief executive, Jenny Corbin, said the company plans to use its winnings from McCombs — and from previous competitions held by the University of Cincinnati, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and at Rice University — to develop and test manufacturing processes for their cattle vaccine, FlyVax, then advance it through federal regulatory processes.

Corbin, who grew up and has worked around horses and cattle her entire life, explained the vaccine’s potential impact to the cattle industry:

“The horn fly causes an economic pain of $1 billion to the [cattle] industry in North America, annually. It makes cows lose weight and it decreases their dairy yield. It stresses them so that beef producers get less steak, dairy producers get less milk, and have to spend more time taking care of their cows.”

According to competition finals judge Mike Dodd, a partner at Austin Ventures, TNG Pharmaceuticals locked first prize because:

“The team was experienced and well-versed in [biosciences] and intellectual property, while understanding the dairy, meat and leather industry. They told us about the way the industry is dealing with the horn fly problem today. It is with something like a flea collar. It’s actually a tag that goes around the cows’ ears, and it doesn’t really work that well. Looking at an average annual population of 94 million cows in North America, there’s a huge problem. This vaccine could solve it.”

Another finals judge, Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of Sage North America’s Healthcare Division, added:

“TNG Pharmaceuticals’ biggest risk is a regulatory risk. Can they get through all the U.S.D.A. and F.D.A. stuff in the time period that they said they could? They have credible people on their board, supporting a time frame they’ve outlined. That helped them win.”

Second-place winners at the competition, Reveal Design Automation, created software to help chip makers avoid costly mistakes, and long delays in the verification and manufacture of their chip designs. The team is spinning its technology out from the University of Michigan.

Tech entrepreneur and investor Mike Maples, Sr. (who is also the father of Floodgate’s Mike Maples Jr.) judged at the Moot Corp semifinals this year, and observed:

“Reveal Design Automation is working on some very big problems. Their technology is supposed to do things like verify that millions of circuits are lined up properly, and make chip design verification thousands of times faster than what’s possible today. Even if the company has just a hundred potential customers — who would be [the makers] of next generation ARM processors — these are customers spending an awful lot of time and money on engineers to design, test and release those chips.”

Reveal Design Automation took hom $5,000 in cash from Moot Corp.

Last year’s Moot Corp. winners, Biologics MD, went on to secure a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense in January this year to continue testing and developing a drug that treats osteoporosis.

Biologics MD president Paul Mlakar wrote to TechCrunch this weekend: “We have actually started some of the pre-clinical work, and hope to move into our own lab space in July. We are also evaluating additional technologies that fit within our expertise and will add value to the company.”


UT-Austin longhorns logo, under creative commons license and
TNG Pharmaceuticals team photo, credit – Steve Moakley

A list of all of the 2011 Moot Corp. semifinalists follows below, with finalists denoted with an asterisk, courtesy of McCombs, UT-Austin.

    cycleWood Solutions
    University of Arkansas

    cycleWood Solutions, LLC offers a sustainable and profitable alternative to conventional single-use plastic bags. Our product, the XyloBag, is comprised of a biodegradable lignin-based plastic and biodegrades in 150 days. We are targeting the $4 billion U.S. plastic bag market.

    GalvaPlus Company
    Thammasat University

    Even with current preventative coating methods, the replacement and correction of steel corrosion in civil construction costs billions of dollars each year in the US alone. GalvaPlus offers an innovative nickel based alloy galvanization, improving steel corrosion by 4 times, at a lower cost, saving an average customer millions in annual maintenance.

    Brigham Young University

    Kalood is an online platform that connects merchants and consumers. Consumers use the platform to rate deals and be notified when deals they’re interested in are available. Merchants use the platform to measure demand for their store, and to target and send custom deal notifications to consumers who have rated their deals highly.

    O2 Insights
    Ohio State University

    O2 Insights is commercializing a revolutionary oxygen diagnostic that meets a critical need in the growing 6.5M patient chronic wound market. The system has received strong buy-in from thought leaders in wound care. The technology will be brought to market for $4M (plus overhead) over the next three years.

    Reveal Design Automation*
    University of Michigan

    Reveal Design Automation designs and sells an automated software solution for performing comprehensive formal verification of digital logic designs to key customers in the IC design industry. Reveal’s technology, based off University of Michigan research, scales to handle more complex designs with less time and with fewer people than existing verification solutions.

    Johns Hopkins University

    TheraCord is a medical device venture out of Johns Hopkins University developing a disruptive technology to optimize the collection of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative therapies that could treat over 300 million people worldwide.

    Titin Tech
    Georgia Tech

    Titin’s mission is to provide the absolute best in athletic training apparel. Titin’s weighted clothing is a patented hyper-gravity training shirt with integrated hydro-gel inserts. We strive to position ourselves at the top of the market in terms of comfort, performance, usability, and results.

    TNG Pharmaceuticals*
    University of Louisville

    TNG Pharmaceuticals has developed a revolutionary vaccine that will alleviate the negative impact of the horn fly, considered the most health depleting and economically damaging pest of cattle. FlyVax is targeted to reduce the number of horn flies per cow, leading to increased farmer efficiency, production, and lower pesticide use.

    Medtric Biotech
    Purdue University

    Medtric was founded in 2010 on a vision to deliver clinically robust and economically sensible wound care solutions. Medtric is pioneering a unique method of destroying bacteria for the prevention and treatment of infected wounds. This technology represents a new class of antimicrobial that combat infection and promote wound healing.

    Carnegie Mellon University

    BlackLocus is a SaaS platform that enables SMB online retailers to price their products smarter and faster; 60 times faster.