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Brain Gain: Bio Business Plan deadline to be extended
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To attract more student entrants, Tennessee Biotechnology Association is extending the deadline for entries in TBA's 2nd Annual Student/PostDoc Business Plan Competition.

Eric Elmquist, Ph.D., an associate scientist with Franklin-based BioMimetic Therapeutics, is the TBA volunteer assisting student leaders in this year's competition.

"We want to let students know there is [a Bio] industry here and you don't have to leave and take your brainpower with you," Elmquist told VNC.

He said that thus far this year, as was the case during the first competition in 2008, all four teams that have registered thus far for the contest are Vanderbilt University graduate or post-doctoral students.

In the TBA's fledgling competition, students from a wide range of campus academic and research activities are invited to compete, including those pursuing juris doctorate or MBA degrees, as well as those in biotech or other life-sciences programs.

The original Jan. 15 deadline has passed and a later January deadline date will soon be posted on the competition website maintained by the TBA Student Chapter. TBA student members manage the competition and the group's broader efforts to develop life sciences in Tennessee.

Elmquist (at right) said he's not discouraged by the slow uptake of student interest, given he recognizes it takes time for a statewide contest to build traction. Still, he said, "we'd like to reach a critical mass" and involve students from West and East Tennessee, as well as Middle Tennessee.

Elmquist said that getting adequate corporate and institutional sponsorship for the event to allow TBA to offer attractive rewards for competition winners is "one of the kinks we have to get worked-out."

Elmquist noted that one of the nation's most prominent competitions, the "MIT 100K Entrepreneurship" program, has prizes totaling $500,000, Elmquist said, and after 19 years' operation that contest has broadened from life sciences to additional fields.

Elmquist said this year's TBA winners will probably be awarded travel and expenses to attend the Southeast BIO Investor Forum, being held later this year in Charleston, S.C.

Judges will review this year's entries April 18. This year's judges have not yet been announced. Last year's judges included Keith Gregg, president of JRG Ventures, LLC; Christopher Rand, senior associate for enterprise development in the Vanderbilt Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development; Terry MacIlvain, regional product line leader for PerkinElmer; Barbara MacIlvain, a National Science Foundation SBIR/STTR grant review panelist; and Conan Young, Ph.D., associate director for preclinical biology at BioMimetic Therapeutics, Inc.

Elmquist, a 30-year-old Floridian, returned to Nashville just over a year ago, following a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry at Vanderbilt in 2005 and his bachelor's at the University of Florida, in 2000.

At BioMimetic, Elmquist specializes in protein chemistry and protein analytics, as a member of the company's product research and development team.

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Tags: Barbara McIlvain, BioMimetic Therapeutics, business plan, Christopher Rand, Conan Young, entrepreneurship, Eric Elmquist, Keith Gregg, LifeScience Tennessee, LifeSciTN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, Tennessee Biotechnology Association, Terry McIlvain, Vanderbilt University

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