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Posted on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 10:30 a.m.

University of Michigan students win thousands for authentication, waste disposal technology startups

By Nathan Bomey

Two teams led by University of Michigan graduate students swept into one of the country's most prestigious entrepreneurial business plan competitions in Houston and won more than $250,000 in cash and investments.

The two companies, Are You a Human and Regenerate, won two of the top seven awards at the Rice University Business Plan Competition, which is generally considered one of the top contests for graduate student entrepreneurs.

Are You a Human took second place among 42 teams and won $154,100, including a $100,000 investment after winning the Most Promising Technology Startup award. The firm is developing a "game-based human authentication tool that replaces the distorted text images known as CAPTCHAs," U-M said in a news release.

Regenerate won a $100,000 investment for presenting the business business plan in the clean tech sector. The company is developing "on-site anaerobic digesters" to reduce waste disposal costs for food service companies.

The competition took place April 14-16 and the awards were announced Saturday.

"Two Michigan teams rising to the top of this very tough field validates the notable talent and skill of our student entrepreneurs,” said Paul Kirsch, associate director of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at U-M's Ross School of Business, in a statement. “I am confident that the funding they received, in addition to the feedback they gathered and the network connections they made, will ... help both teams significantly advance their businesses.”

Are You a Human is led by MBA students Tyler Paxton, David Levitch, Biswaroop Palit, Benjamin Blackmer and Reid Tatoris. Regenerate is led by doctoral candidates Robert Levine and Nolan Orfield and dual degree master's students Paul Davis and Hunt. Briggs.

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