Isaac Estrada, a 3L, teamed with Meghan Norvell, an MBA student at the Anderson School of Management, to take third place in the Anderson school's Technology Business Plan Competition. They received the vSpring Capital Prize of $5,000, being presented by Gavin Christensen, vSpring principal.
The students competed against nine teams as the ABQari Wellness team, so named for its Arabic translation of ingenious and the obvious ABQ link to Albuquerque. Their award-winning plan was designed to produce innovative, high quality nutraceutical compounds to reduce the risk of such diseases as prostate cancer and osteoarthritis.
ABQari's first product will be a patented formulation of Glucosamin/Chondroitin Sulfate for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This product is ready to go on the market, having been through a $12.5 million clinical trial that proved its safety and efficacy.
Their second product, ATQ, is an oxidation product of vitamin E that can slow the growth and induce the death of prostate cancer cells. This product is currently in animal studies and will complete its first human study in the summer of 2009.
Since both products are natural compounds, they will be sold as high quality nutraceuticals for the treatment of osteoarthritis and prevention of prostate cancer respectively. Estrada and Norvell project revenues of more than $100 million in the first five years of production, which will allow them to develop an ATQ pharmaceutical for the treatment of prostate cancer and another two or more pro-inflammatory protein inhibitor pharmaceuticals.
Estrada had met Norvell through her husband, Eric, who graduated from the UNM School of Law in 2007. Employed by a local biotech startup and armed with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, she came to STC.UNM, a UNM technology transfer where Estrada works on patent applications, looking for a project. They decided to team up and enter the Anderson competition.
"The entire competition was a wonderful experience," says Estrada. "We had mentors that helped us with marketing and financials. The inventors were super-nice and we talked to them a lot about their discoveries. All of the participants and the judges were very friendly and respectful. I really hope that students from the law school will continue to be involved in this competition."
This was the third time the Anderson school hosted the competition, which awarded $40,000 in prize money to students looking to form their own high-tech startups in New Mexico.