SioTeX, an interdisciplinary team from Texas State University, won the Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize during the 14th Annual Rice University Business Plan Competition (RBPC) in Houston.
This marked the first year a Texas State team had been invited to compete in the RBPC, arguably the largest and most competitive business plan competition in the world. Texas State finished fourth overall.
In addition to the Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize, SioTeX also took first place in the Challenge Round Flight and was runner-up in the CASIS ISS National Lab Space Flight prize. The team was also acknowledged as the most engaged in mobile social media activity during the competition.
The $125,000 Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize is awarded for extraordinary entrepreneurship, demonstrated by independent thinking, team motivation, fortitude, ability to change and adapt to the marketplace, and the ability to build a great idea into a globally competitive business using only a small amount of capital. The Texas Halo Fund Investment Prize was the fourth largest prize awarded.
The RBPC, conducted by the Rice Alliance on the campus of Rice University, is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition where teams pitch their business plans to investors and judges. There were more than 500 applicants this year with only 42 teams invited. In total, the Rice Alliance awarded over $3 million in this year’s competition.
SioTeX was formed in December 2013 and is built around advancing a technology developed in the Material Science, Engineering and Commercialization (MSEC) Ph.D. Program by team leader Haoran Chen. Chen recently completed his Ph.D. and formed the team which includes Marcus Goss (MSEC student), Ash Kotwal (MSEC Student), Lisa Taylor (MBA student) and Cesar Rivera (MFA student).
With the investment prize, SioTeX will obtain the financing to construct a manufacturing facility and launch their business. SioTeX will produce and distribute Eco-Sil, an environmentally-friendly alternative to fumed silica. Eco-Sil is manufactured from rice hulls and is a renewable resource. Target markets include paint, fiberglass-reinforced plastic and tires. These markets currently account for $1.5 billion in sales annually.