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High Point, Two WFU Startups Tops in Piedmont Business Plan Competition

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Three companies, one of which is already selling products, walked away with the top prizes in the

Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network's

business plan competition on Thursday night.

Sharing the top spot in the Growth Accelerator Program were Aqualutions, AudioFusion and Cleantechnics.

Each company receives $30,000 in cash and also is eligible for free incubator space as well as free or discounted professional services, such as legal, financial and public relations.

Cleantechnics, which is based in High Point, is already operating. A developer of fluid filtration systems for trucks, the company already has some of its products being used by Harris Teeter and the transit system in Atlanta. The company is run by Chief Executive Officer Hugh Thomas.

Aqualutions in Winston-Salem is developing a fish diagnostic test based on technology from Wake Forest University. Sarah Yocum, the first Kauffman Fellow in the Wake Forest MBA program, is running the project. The technology was created by Ray Kuhn, a professor at Wake Forest.

AudioFusion, which is also in Winston-Salem, is developing hearing devices with technology developed in Ohio. The startup is run by Mark Hendrickson, a second-year MBA student at Wake Forest.

"The fact that they did have a technology that either has been patented or gives them the lead on the market and that there are addressable business markets gave them advantages," said Jon Obermeyer, the interim director of PTEN. "There were some very realistic expectations."

Ten companies had advanced to the finals. They were judged by five people - a venture capitalist, an intellectual property attorney, a private attorney, a business school dean, and a university tech transfer officer.

The winners will receive the money in three installments after reaching certain milestones, Obermeyer said.

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