After two rounds of judging, five finalists have reached the final day of assessment in the annual Duke Start-Up Challenge.

The firms are competing Saturday for more than $125,000 in cash — as well as for attention from potential investors and venture capitalists who will be on hand for the event. Each will make a presentation before a panel of judges that morning, and the winners will be announced later in the day.

The entrepreneurs also will get some insight and advice from Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat and now head of LuLu Enterprises. He’s delivering the keynote address.

The five companies are focused on:

  • Minimal invasive surgery heart
  • Digital display technology
  • Waterproof LED light
  • Bladder treatment
  • Design software
  • Among the judges is John Yates, chair of the technology practice at Morris, Manning and Martin LLP in Atlanta and Charlotte. He’s a graduate of Duke and Duke Law School.

    “These businesses must be extremely high quality just to make it to the
    final round,” Yates says. “I look forward to helping to choose the best of
    the best.”

    Here’s a look at the final five:


    Intracardia is developing a new surgical procedure and specialized equipment, the purpose of which is to perform minimally invasive surgery for the closure of undesirable openings in the heart. Intracardia’s business model includes the design and manufacture of the Intracardia Suturing System (ISS), a set of patentable precision instruments to be used in the company’s unique, newly developed procedure for performing corrective surgery on the wall of the human heart to improve outcomes and reduce patient trauma.


    MBright specializes in the design and development of proprietary technologies and production-ready solutions of the next-generation digital display technology. Combining unique world-class digital signal processing engineering, imaging expertise and superior intellectual property, MBright has developed an innovative third-generation liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) digital projection light engine with enhanced brightness and high contrast ratio.

    Mongo Light Company, Inc.

    Mongo Light has developed a highly indestructible, waterproof LED lamp usable for a variety of commercial and consumer applications. The Company’s unique technology eliminates this problem for consumers while producing light for over 100,000 consecutive hours at reduced energy usage and cost than alternatives. Mongo Light Company, Inc. has a patent application pending and is positioned to begin marketing its first products in 2003.


    Urotech has developed a novel treatment for ascites, the pathological accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity affecting more than 1.3 million Americans. The company’s Ascites Bladder Drain is a therapeutic device created for the purpose of evacuating accumulated ascites from the peritoneal cavity on a continuous and non-invasive schedule. Urotech is poised to dramatically improve the treatment of this condition.


    WISDEM, Inc. is a North Carolina based software company that has developed a fuzzy constraint solver technology based on the product of ten years’ research. WISDEM’s FuzCon product enables enterprises to achieve lower product development cost and shorter time to market by capturing imprecise design specifications, resolving design conflicts, maintaining design audit trails, and connecting geographically dispersed design groups.

    Duke Start-Up Challenge: