Entrepreneurship Center

WHU Start-Up Takes First Prize at Rice Business Plan Competition

WHU start-up LIDROTECH wins over $600K at the Texas-based contest for its innovative laser-based business model

For the past two decades, the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, an initiative of Rice University in Houston, Texas (USA), has been hosting a contest designed to help collegiate entrepreneurs from all around the globe in their endeavors. The Rice Business Plan Competition sees various start-ups pitch their innovative models and plans, get feedback from those who know best, and potentially win a significant prize to help fund their business. LIDROTEC, a micro-processing company co-founded by WHU alumnus Alexander Igelmann (MSc 2014), had a remarkable showing at this year’s proceedings and walked away with the GOOSE Capital Grand Prize.

Receiving several smaller grants in addition to clinching the top spot, LIDROTEC left the competition with an impressive $630,000 in prize money. By marrying ultrashort laser pulses to a liquid environment, Igelmann and his colleagues are able to ensure highly precise cutting of a variety of production materials, outputting a minimum level of heat and guaranteeing maximum efficiency and cleaner surfaces. Having already been ranked as one of the top start-ups in Germany, it is no surprise that their unique business model has been now recognized internationally.

Professor Dries Faems, holder of the Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technological Transformation at WHU, noted that LIDROTEC’s success is a “great example of how regional collaboration between universities and business schools can generate exceptional success.” After having built their prototype at Ruhr University Bochum, the company became part of the premiere cohort of the WHU Accelerator program and began work at the RWTH Innovation incubator. Readers can watch the two co-founders pitch their idea at the competition here.