WINSTON-Teams of MBA students from the University of Mississippi the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School took top honors at the fifth annual Babcock Elevator Competition.

The annual competition at the Wachovia Center in downtown Winston-Salem, is organized by the Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management and the affiliated Angell Center for Entrepreneurship.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for entrepreneurial MBA students with the right business plan,” says Stan Mandel, executive professor of entrepreneurship at the Babcock School and director of the Angell Center. “This competition simulates reality. With the goal of getting more ‘face time,’ students must make pithy, effective pitches to influential investors. In addition to making an outstanding formal presentation-as brilliant as it is concise-the students need an exceptional entrepreneurial team with a compelling plan.”

Twenty-two teams of entrepreneurs with business plans shared elevator rides with a team of venture capitalists on March 27. The initial meetings lasted long enough for the elevator to reach the top floor of the Wachovia Center – exactly two minutes.

Five finalists were granted 30 minutes in the boardroom with the undivided attention of a panel of judges who could help finance their business plans. Two winners were named from the finalists.

The team from Mississippi represented a wine import business, with Matthew Hedges and Andrew Jones winning Best Company honors. Vino Del Sol, their wine development and distribution company, was judged as the best opportunity for a viable business in the short term.

Ajay Bakshi and Ashima Singhal from Penn won Best Venture honors. CelfCure, their biotech company dealing with the use of a patient’s own stem cells to treat trauma in spinal cord injuries, was judged the venture that offered the most significant long-term potential.

The two winning teams will enter discussions with one or more of the venture capital firms that served as judges, with the possibility of getting their business plans funded. The firms represent more than $500 million in early stage venture capital.

In addition to the winners, the five teams selected to advance to the second round included the University of North Carolina’s ConFoCal, the University of Chicago’s Ripula, and the University of Washington’s Complianz.

Babcock School: