AirSeal, a WashU biomedical startup company, has won the Texas Medical Center Innovation Healthcare Investment Prize of $250,000 at the 2023 Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, TX. The team, which spun out of the MBA program at Washington University’s Olin Business School, competed May 11-13 at the annual three-day pitching, mentoring and networking event. In addition to the TMC Innovation prize, the team also won the top prize in the 60-second elevator pitch competition in the life-sciences category.
“It was an extraordinary experience full of excitement, thrill, and a lot of hard work,” remarked Mohamed Zayed, cofounder of AirSeal. “It was also wonderful to be surrounded by such an accomplished field of innovators with transformative ideas that have the potential to change the world.”
AirSeal, founded Zayed (EMBA ’23) and Stephen Wu (MBA ’23), was recently a finalist in the 2023 Global Impact Award, hosted by the Skandalaris Center. The team developed an innovative patented biomarker for diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 silent killer in the U.S. and costs over $400 billion per year. Their proprietary technology allows them to identify cardiovascular disease earlier in the patient care workflow and has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of millions worldwide.
“We are so excited for Stephen and Mohamed,” said II Luscri, Managing Director of the Skandalaris Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “It’s been wonderful to see how they have developed AirSeal from the early days of their MBA program, throughout the Global Impact Award process, and now on the national stage at Rice. The Skandalaris team is always here to support them, and we look forward to seeing what’s next!”
The Rice Business Plan Competition gives collegiate entrepreneurs real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product. Judges evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting startup funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms. This year saw more than 450 applications for the competition. Of those, 42 teams were invited to compete in one of five categories: energy, clean tech and sustainability; life sciences and health care solutions; consumer products and services; hard tech; and digital enterprise.
“This investment is an important milestone in our young company’s life and serves as a significant catalyst for our next key milestone of reaching a minimal viable product that can then be evaluated by the FDA,” said Zayed. “Additionally, it provides us with access to additional experts and partners at the TMC as we continue to execute our key deliverables over the next several months.”