Penn State team takes third place at idea to product global contest

Buzby Networks, Penn State's entry to the 2009 Idea to Product (I2P) Global Competition, took third place and a $2,500 prize in the contest's Technology Entrepreneurship Society Global Championship round. The I2P Global Competition was held Oct. 30 to 31 at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

The Buzby Networks team consists of electrical engineering graduate students Erik Davidson, Erik Weir and Daniel Weiss and former acoustics master's student Nicholas Platt. Advisers for the team were Sven Bilen, interim head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, and Elizabeth Kisenwether, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor.

Weir, who is Buzby Networks' executive product manager, and Bilen attended the competition.

The I2P Global Competition is an early-stage technology commercialization plan competition that invites university teams from Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America to enter their commercially viable product ideas. Student teams compete for more than $50,000 in prizes and a chance to enter the Global Moot Corp Competition, the "Super Bowl of World Business Plan Competition."

"The competition gave Buzby Networks a forum in which to refine its pitch to investors and gain visibility and support from an unbiased group," said Weir.

Buzby Networks developed an indoor Real-Time Locating System (RTLS), which is similar to indoor GPS. The product was initially created for use in the eldercare market segment to help track and locate confused and wandering dementia patients in a facility, patients in emergency situations, critical assets and equipment and direct care providers.

Similar tracking systems exist, but Buzby Networks has developed a patent-pending RTLS that gives them a competitive edge. The product consists of a router infrastructure, mobile microchip tags for tracking and graphical user interface PC software that shows positioning. It has 2-meter accuracy and will never provide an incorrect location. The system uses ZigBee wireless technology.

To date, Buzby Networks has secured more than $200,000 in grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the Technology Collaborative. The company plans to use the prize money from the I2P Global Competition win to help purchase critical software needed for development, such as LabVIEW.

Buzby Networks is currently pursuing contract-engineering for hardware development; the software and algorithm are being developed using internal efforts. The company expects to have a commercially viable product in the middle of next year. Buzby is currently fundraising through grant opportunities including those through state- and government-run programs. Buzby Networks also plans to enter business plan competitions using a business plan written for them by Penn State business students in BA 301H Honors Finance taught by finance instructor Gregory Pierce.

"For the student teams, the I2P Global Competition is all about education," said Bilen. "The feedback provided to Buzby Networks will prove extremely valuable to them as they move forward in their entrepreneurial efforts."

More information, pictures, videos and results of the I2P Global Competition may be found at online.

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Last Updated November 20, 2009