UA Eller College Undergrads Win National Business Plans Competition with High Tech Optical Plan
April 1, 2002
The Karl EllDanny Berger and Sara Conrad, seniors in the Karl Eller Center Berger Entrepreneurship Program at The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Business and Public Administration won first place at the Ball State/Miami of Ohio Business Plans Competition. Thirty-nine schools from around the country entered teams in the competition.
The winning plan, Optica Technologies, Inc., manufactures and markets optical products for the medical community.
"Competition at the national level gets more fierce every year," said Gary Libecap, director of the Karl Eller Center, "so this is quite an accomplishment for our undergraduate team." Libecap also noted that the plan for Optica Technologies, Inc., is part of the Karl Eller Center’s technology transfer efforts. One of the judges, a venter capitalist, even expressed an interest in funding the project.
Optica Technologies, Inc
The Company: Optica Technologies Inc. is an optical technology company started by Robert W. Snyder, M.D.,head of the opthalmology department; Joseph M. Miller, M.D., professor of opthalmology; and assistant professor of opthalmology, James T. Schwiegerling, Ph.D. who are on staff in the Optical Sciences Department at The University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Optica is focused on the manufacturing and marketing of optical products to the medical community. Optica is currently in partnership to develop lenses that can be adapted to a hand held 35 mm camera photograph different parts of the eye.
The Product: Optica is developing a series of lenses designed for medical use. These lenses will have the capabilities of existing fundus cameras used by ophthalmologists, but offer many more advantages. The first lens in the series has the capability to view the retina of an eye. Also in the development stages is a lens that can detect glaucoma.
The benefits of these lenses over traditional fundus cameras is that they can be adapted to a digital camera, allowing for easy development of images, storage, manipulation, and viewing of the image through a computer. The design of the lenses also allows for portability with its connection to a hand held camera. The added benefits of portability include its applications with children, functionality in an emergency room, use in EMT vehicles, maneuverability with patients, and use in rural medicine.
The unique and patentable design of the lens solves an old problem with light refraction in lenses designed for hand held cameras used in photographing the eye. The image left on the film by the camera was distorted by refracted light. Optica has developed a way to keep this light from ruining the image when taken with a standard 35mm camera.
The Market: In 1998 over $15 billion was spent on vision products and tools. Optica's goal is to sell its first lens primarily to pediatricians and hospital emergency rooms, generally the first source of care for children and people with trauma, and neither is equipped with fundus cameras. Optica's lens can also have added use with Emergency Medical Teams and Women and Children's Centers.
The main hospitals use for the lens is in postoperative examinations where imaging equipment can be brought to patients in recovery as well as for documenting eye traumas in emergency rooms for later use by ophthalmologists. For pediatricians, this lens can help detect signs of child abuse by looking at the blood vessels in the eyes to check for inflammation.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program #12 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program #48 in the U.S. The College leads the nation’s business schools in generating grant funds for research. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the 25th ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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