A team that includes three Rutgers graduate students is one of nine entrepreneurial-minded teams from around the world named finalists in the Licensing Executives Society (LES) Foundation’s 2015 International Graduate Student Business Plan Competition. Winners of this graduate student competition, which “focuses on student business plans that hinge on ground-breaking technologies and that offer sound strategies for commercializing intellectual assets to achieve business objectives,” will be announced on May 11 at the LES Spring Meeting in La Jolla, CA.
Advancing to the final round are Tom Villani, Ph.D. student in medicinal chemistry, Michael Johnson, Ph.D. student in environmental sciences and Ryan Manaskie, an MBA candidate, who lead the biotech startup, Phytosys, LLC, which was named finalist in the LES competition. Phytosys was launched following Villani’s invention of Visikol™, a patent-pending chemical formula that renders animal and plant tissues transparent and allows for 3D biopsies and various other transformative technologies.
Villani is the Chief Science Officer, leading scientific research, product development and academic collaborations for Phytosys. Johnson serves as the CEO, responsible for the day-to-day operations as well as the marketing and sales strategy for the Phytosys brand while Manaskie is the Vice President for Business Development. Serving as Phytosys’ advisor is James Simon, professor int he Department of Plant Biology and Pathology. Simon, who is integral in shaping the strategic direction of the start-up, leads the New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program at Rutgers.