TriFusion Takes Top Prize in Rice Business Plan Competition

Houston — A Texas A&M University-based medical device company aiming to build a better prosthetic now has some new capital to support the effort.

TriFusion Devices got a big boost over the weekend as the big winner in this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition, namely winning at least $300,000 in investment from Houston’s Goose Society. “It’s going to be incredible to work with them,” says Blake Teipel, TriFusion’s CEO. Goose members such as Vanguard Ventures founder Jack Gill and Nancy Chang, founder of biotech company Tanox.

TriFusion has licensed materials science technology from Texas Tech University (the inventors are now at Texas A&M) that enables the 3-D production of a sturdier limb. “Typical 3-D printed components are weak in between the layers,” Teipel says.

In addition to the Goose prize, TriFusion also received investments from The Indus Entrepreneurs, or TiE. The win at the Rice business plan contest—a first for a Texas A&M startup—also gives the entrepreneurs the opportunity to ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange at a to-be-determined date.

In total, this year’s business plan competition awarded a total of $1.7 million in the three-day competition that brought in 42 student companies from around the world. University of Michigan’s Neurable won second place with its wearable “brain-computer interface” that allows for real-time control of physical objects and software. Gecko Robotics, a Carnegie Mellon University company that builds robots for industrial site inspections, took third.

Teipel says he expects to formally meet with the Goose members this week. In the meantime, he says TriFusion will use the prize money to pay for materials to build 50 prosthetic devices that will be tested in a pilot program with the Veterans Administration in Dallas and Houston, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Patients will wear and stress test the devices. “There will be day in and day out interaction with the device,” he says.


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