CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Andy Hemmert, Jon Edwards, and Ben Hill comprised the team of UNC graduate students who competed and won third place and a $5,000 cash prize to be split amongst them at the 4th Annual Global Venture Challenge hosted by Oak Ridge National Labs on March 24-26, 2010.
The Global Venture Challenge is a unique educational event open world-wide to graduate students who showcase new technology products advancing either energy or security development. At this year’s competition, twenty-two teams of graduate students from five countries were invited to present and over 50 venture capitalists served as judges. The winning teams were selected based on the innovativeness of their technology and the predicted commercialization of the product.
Hemmert, Edwards, and Hill won third place for the device they are developing that may identify terrorist nerve agents via a no-power colorimetric enzyme assay. The proprietary enzymes have been tested against bona fide nerve agents at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. The device is being marketed for the military, HAZMAT teams, and first responders by a UNC spinoff company called Identizyme which Hemmert and Edwards founded with their advisor Dr. Matt Redinbo, Professor and Chair of Chemistry at UNC and member of UNC Lineberger.
Hemmert and Edwards are graduate students in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics who both work in the lab of Dr. Redinbo, and Ben Hill is an MBA student in the UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business. Hemmert and Edwards were introduced to Hill during their participation in a one-year “Launching the Venture” course offered through the UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business. As part of this course, the team worked together to perform requisite market research in developing a viable business plan and seek-out venture funding for their product.