Ruba and Tzeno learn the entrepreneurial ropes and win Business Plan Competitions   Bookmark and Share

Ruba Borno and Tzeno Galchev, electrical engineering graduate students, have gained invaluable insight into what it takes to commercialize research. Partnering with U-M MBA student Rishiraj Das, they have developed a business plan which they have used to enter and win several competitions.

Borno’s work takes environmental energy, specifically energy from evaporation, and converts it to electrical power, while Galchev concentrates on transforming kinetic energy, such as vibrations, into electrical power.

Borno hopes to encourage others in the pursuit of bio-mimicry, or bio-inspiration. She is inspired by looking at how nature has already solved engineering-type problems, and feels we should try to solve problems using what nature has already done for us.

Tzeno described the competitions as a foray into the world of entrepreneurialism, which he feels is more closely tied to the scientific world than the business world. “You don’t know where you’re going, or where you’re going to get, or how you’re going to get there, but you’re doing it, and it’s always an adventure, and it’s always new. That’s why it appeals to us as scientists.”

Recent wins include first place in the Colorado Cleantech Venture Challenge and the FuturTech Quick Pitch competition here at U-M. Additionally they took 2nd place, the Williamson Award for Outstanding Business and Engineering Team, and the Erb Award for Sustainability at the Michigan Business Challenge.