Last week I had the pleasure of being a judge for the Nano Idea to Product Competition that took place as part of Nano Nexus 2007 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Fifteen teams of students from various universities across the country presented business proposals for some great new and innovative nanotechnology product ideas. The winner received $25,000 in seed money for their project. Judging the competition was very hard. Every team in my group of contestants was very good and all of the judges had a difficult time deciding who came out on top. A team from the University of Texas at Austin earned the winning spot in our round and ultimately won the competition with their NANOTaxi drug delivery platform. The product is an extremely targeted disease-responsive nano-drug delivery system. It consists of a biodegradable nanocylinder with a disease responsive lid that acts as a sensor and dissolves to release a drug only in the presence of a large quantity of specific enzymes found only inside diseased cells. Not only was the product creative and innovative, the presenters did an excellent job making their pitch and also at fielding our various questions. You can see a photograph of the winning team and read another blogger’s take on the competition here.
As for the conference itself, Nano Nexus 2007 was exceedingly well-planned and organized. The facilities were excellent and everyone was very hospitable. The speakers were also top-rate. With all of the mega nano-conferences taking place this year, it was also nice to attend this one with a specific venture focus.