NRW Start-up wins U.S. Start-up Competition
Lidrotec takes first place in 22nd Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC)
A four-person NRW start-up team from Ruhr University Bochum and RWTH Aachen University took first place in the 22nd Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC), the world's largest and richest university start-up competition.
In the pre-selection process, the Lidrotec team from NRW succeeded against more than 400 competitors from all over the world - as one of only two international teams to make it to the final, alongside universities such as Harvard University, Boston University and John Hopkins University. In addition to Lidrotec, the "Invitris" team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) also made it to the final and took 3rd place. As first-place winners, Lidrotec received the grand prize of $350,000 as an investment award from GOOSE Capital. The start-up also received the "Softeq Venture Studio" award of $125,000, the "TiE Houston Angels" award of $100,000, the "RBPC Alumnus, Thomas Healy" award of $50,000, the "Eagle Investors" award of $5,000, the "Best Hard Tech Elevator Pitch" award of $500, and the "RG Advisors CFO Consulting" award at RBPC. With their patent-pending technology, the NRW team impressed the jury, winning investments and funding totaling nearly $630,000.
After two years of virtual execution, the Rice Business Plan Competition could finally take place again with an on-site audience in Houston. In the weeks leading up to the competition, the two German teams Lidrotec and Invitris were supported by a group of mentors from the entrepreneurial network "TiE Houston" and coaches from RWTH Innovation.
Produce microchips with almost no waste
Lidrotec GmbH develops and distributes laser machines for cutting microchips for the semiconductor industry. Microchips are produced by the thousands on so-called wafers and, before they can be used individually in smartphones or computers, they must first be cut out of these wafers.
By using LIDROTEC's technology, the waste in this cutting process, which is currently as high as 10%, can be reduced to almost 0%. This allows semiconductor companies to significantly save costs and increase productivity.
The unique innovation is the use of liquids during the laser cutting process. This cools wafers during cutting while efficiently flushing away any ablation products that are produced.
The founders of the start-up completed their (doctoral) studies at the RUB, RWTH, and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. In April 2021, they founded Lidrotec based on their technology developed at RUB. The team received support from the start-up centers of both universities – RWTH Innovation & the WORLDFACTORY Start-up Center of RUB – as part of the Excellenz Start-up Center (ESC) initiative of the Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
As an EXIST start-up, the founders were closely supported by the WORLDFACTORY of the RUB, especially during the application process as well as organizationally during the implementation of EXIST. By participating in the Incubation Program of RWTH Innovation, the founders were able to refine their pitch and thus convince the RBPC jury.
"Lidrotec's success is a great example of collaboration between universities in North Rhine-Westphalia and impressively demonstrates the potential that can be unleashed, especially through the Excellenz Start-up Center initiative" - comments Marius Rosenberg, Managing Director of the ESC at RWTH, who accompanied the team to Houston as a mentor and had already won the RBPC himself in 2014 with his RWTH start-up Adhesys Medical. "Lidrotec impressively demonstrates the transfer of a research-based idea into a successful start-up," adds Marc Seelbach, head of the RUB's Transfer and Entrepreneurship department.
The founding team of Lidrotec can now count on strong additional supporters from the USA and plans to collect a funding round with a total volume of $3.5 million in 2022 to complete the development and sell the first machines.