LAS VEGAS – Benjamin West struck a familiar pose late Wednesday night when he held the Tri-State business plan competition first place trophy high over his head.
CerebroGen Pharmaceuticals from the University of Oklahoma had just capped off its 2011 Governor’s Cup experience by winning the Graduate Division first place prize of $25,000 in the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State competition.
CerebroGen also won the Graduate Division in the Oklahoma Governor’s Cup competition in April. The team of OU students wrote and presented a business plan developed around a drug therapy to treat epilepsy.
Tri-State winners were recognized at an awards dinner here at the Red Rock Resort after a day-long competition in which both Graduate and Undergraduate Division teams from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nevada presented their business plans to panels of judges.
The top two Graduate and Undergraduate division teams from Governor’s Cup competitions in each state advanced to compete in the Tri-State event, which is underwritten by the Las Vegas-based Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which announced it would underwrite the competition for five more years.
In addition to West, who served as team leader, CerebroGen’s team members included Chase Roberts, Tobi Olusola and Majed Gharfeh. Dr. Elaine Hamm was faculty advisory.
West attributed the team’s success in part to Oklahoma’s economic development “eco-system” that encourages development of emerging entrepreneurs like those on the winning CerebroGen team.
“We think of this as a product of the Oklahoma eco-system,” West said moments CerebroGen walked off the stage as Tri-State winners. “We were the people on the stage, but it’s a reflection on Oklahoma and not what we’ve done.
CycleWood Solutions, a team from the University of Arkansas, won the second place prize of $15,000 in the Graduate Division. IASO, a team from the University of Tulsa, also competed in the Tri-State competition.
Teams from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, swept the Undergraduate Division. Craftistas was the first place winner, while Agriculture Food Solutions was awarded second place.
Oklahoma teams competing in the Undergraduate Division were LumiDX and VitaRhythm, both from the University of Oklahoma.