Business Plan Contest Winner

Cocoon Biotech Named Winner of The Venture Forum's 2013 Business Plan Contest

A biotech company offering a novel approach to osteoarthritis treatment has won The Venture Forum’s 2013 Business Plan Contest. A panel of four judges selected the start up for the $10,000 prize offered by The Venture Forum, with additional in-kind support.  The event was held November 12th on the WPI campus.

Both CEO Ailis Tweed-Kent, MD and CTO Anh Hoang, PhD presented for Cocoon Biotech Inc., describing its injectable silk hydrogel as a longer-term treatment for osteoarthritis sufferers who currently go through a series of failed treatments from pain relievers to surgery. The disease manifests as pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility leading to decreased quality of life. Current injections aimed to alleviate joint pain are marginally effective, short lasting, produce localized inflammation, and require multiple injections.

Two incubator directors and two early-stage funders formed the judging panel for this year’s Business Plan Contest, including Lisa Kirby Gibbs, chairperson of the angel investment group Boynton Angels; Ryan Leary, co-founder and president of Worcester’s newest co-working space Running Start; Kevin O’Sullivan, president and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives; and Nick Pappas, vice president of the venture capital firm MassVentures.

Sponsors for this year’s Business Plan Contest were Bartholomew & Company Incorporated, Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, Mirick O’Connell, Lobstagen and WPI

Audience voting

Approximately 100 people attended the presentations of the four finalists.  They provided their evaluation of each of the companies’ business plans as presented.  The audience also chose Cocoon Biotech, but it was very close with all four companies scoring strongly. They voted on the following seven areas:

  • Do they have an unmet need with a large market?
  • Is the product or service innovative?

  • Is there a competitive advantage?
  • Does the team give you the confidence they can execute?
  • Would you invest your own money in this company?
  • Do they have a path to liquidity?
  • Do they have a market/sales distribution strategy?

Other Finalists

Energy Harvesters

Energy Harvesters is commercializing a personal electronics mobile power source. This off-the-grid device will charge portable electronic device batteries as you walk or directly power applications such as footwear heaters and GPS locators without the need for batteries. The Walking Charger™ is a small device that will be incorporated within footwear for OEM branded products serving military, recreation, work boot and consumer end users.

Standard Genetics

Standard Genetics is a company that creates standardized diagnostic assays for the application in molecular medicine, providing education-based meaningful information, to both doctor and patient, on the outcome of the results, which leads to improved patient care and the delivery of the right therapeutic treatment. 


Phonologics, Inc.

A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) firm in the global business of computer-based spoken English intelligibility assessment. Intelligibility refers to the ability of a non-native speaker of English to be understood by a native speaker of English. The proprietary cloud-based scoring engine of Phonologics’ Automated Pronunciation Screening Test (APST) produces a robust, immediate and actionable assessment with report, based on a software app that prompts the test-taker to speak specific words and sentences into a local client computer. Unlike the traditional “human-listener” approach to assessment, APST is fast, validated, economical, highly scalable -- and objective.

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