A team of Chemical Engineering graduate students Swaroop Chatterjee, Warren Hogarth and James Nehlsen won first place this year in Princeton University's Business Plan contest with a plan to produce a new ceramic membrane-based fuel cells. The plan detailing the production, marketing and profitability of a new kind of fuel cell named MiCel, which could deliver up to three times the battery life of traditional batteries, won the contest's top prize of $5,000.
The contest began in December of last year. Contestants were asked to submit a brief description of an entrepreneurial idea that they wished to develop. With the help of venture capitalists who acted as mentors, the contestants then spent three months refining their business plan with information like five- and ten-year cash-flow projections. They also practiced pitching their business idea to others in short two-minute speeches, known as "elevator speeches." The final part of the contest, which ended Feb. 26, was for each team to present their plan before a panel of top venture capitalists and other experts who then determined the winners.