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Members of Northwestern’s UroVention team at NASDAQ headquarters. From left: Philip Herman, Omar Alam, Vishal Arya and Jason Chu. (Not pictured: Nas Alidu, Raj Kurpad, John Nazarian, Evelyn Auyeung and TJ Kim.)

Members of Northwestern’s UroVention team at NASDAQ headquarters. From left: Philip Herman, Omar Alam, Vishal Arya and Jason Chu. (Not pictured: Nas Alidu, Raj Kurpad, John Nazarian, Evelyn Auyeung and TJ Kim.)

A ringing success

Northwestern’s UroVention team celebrates its win at the Wharton Alumni Business Plan Competition

By Amy Trang

9/10/2010 - A team of Northwestern students capped off a set of strong performances at national business plan competitions by ringing the NASDAQ closing bell on Aug. 23 in New York.

The students — from Northwestern’s business, engineering, law and medical schools — took first place at the Wharton Alumni Business Plan Competition in May. The plan they created was the product of Northwestern's interdisciplinary Medical Innovation course, in which students from Northwestern graduate schools work together to develop new products for the healthcare industry.

The students’ winning business plan centered on “NUVI-1,” an ergonomic urology device they created to treat enlarged prostates. The students received a $10,000 equity investment in the company in addition to the opportunity to participate in the closing bell ceremony.

“Business plan competitions have given us the opportunity to network with venture capitalists and other start-up companies,” said Vishal Arya ’10, a Kellogg student on the team. “Winning this competition has given us the much-needed capital to move forward in the short run, as well as inspiring the confidence in our team to continue on our journey to commercialize our device.”

In addition to Arya, the “UroVention” team is comprised of recent Kellogg graduates Nas Alidu and Phil Herman, both ’10; Feinberg School of Medicine students Raj Kurpad and John Nazarian; McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science students Evelyn Auyeung and TJ Kim; and Northwestern Law students Omar Alam and Jason Chu. William Sutter, a senior lecturer of finance at Kellogg, was the adviser for the team and the Medical Innovation course.

Students in the course identify unmet clinical needs, innovate medical technology and deliver that concept to patients. They experience the entire innovation/business life cycle from creation to prototyping to business plan development.

Arya said one of the team’s biggest challenges was reaching consensus on a concept that would thrive beyond the coursework.

“We (all agreed that we) would try and take our idea to ultimate commercialization and beyond the scope of the class — it was critical that we all worked off one common goal for our company,” Arya said. “Developing our company and prototype was a unique learning experience, and it highlighted to me that every functional component of a company is equally as important as the next in moving an idea forward.”

Three of the team members worked on the venture full-time this summer and are building an advisory board of urologists in Chicago and Chapel Hill, N.C. The company is finalizing a working prototype in the next few months, and plans to file a patent.

In April, UroVention’s “NUVI-1” device earned third place in the Shark Tank round of the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston.