Climate-KIC entrepreneurs win prizes at US business plan competition

Jing Zhang and Roger Coulston, participants in the Climate-KIC masterclass programme, have won two awards totaling $24.000 at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, Texas.

Zhang, who presented the business case for chemicals start-up Aqdot in a 15-minute investment pitch and a 60-second elevator pitch, landed a fifth place, putting almost 600 competitors behind her during the competition. Zhang also picked up the Courageous Women Entrepreneur Award.

Zhang, who co-founded Aqdot with her partner Coulston and two Cambridge academics in 2012, participated, among other things, in an intensive pitch training by a US business coach.

Climate-KIC’s masterclasses helped me compress the information in such a short amount of time. She made sure I was well prepared for an American-style contest. Jing Zhang, participants in the Climate-KIC masterclass programme


It’s really inspiring to see how our programmes have a direct impact on the success of European entrepreneurs, globally.Richard Templer, Climate-KIC UK director


Aqdot‘s technology allows for an energy- and raw material-efficient way of manufacturing microcapsules, leading to lower energy consumption and less waste.

Potential applications include encapsulating enzymes in laundry detergents, or encapsulating fertilisers in the agrochemical sector. Microencapsulation is a multi-billion-per-annum industry with established applications in household and personal care, food and agrochemical markets.

Based on cutting-edge research from the University of Cambridge, Aqdot can produce inexpensive capsules while preserving the activity of bio-macromolecules, which can be triggered to release on-demand.

Rice Business Plan Competition

The Rice Business Plan Competition has been described as the Super Bowl and World Series, combined, by Fortune and CNN/Money. The annual competition is organised by Rice University, based in Houston, Texas. Rice University describes the contest as the world’s richest and largest business competition.

This year’s competition brought 42 top university teams from across the globe to pitch their new technology businesses to over 300 venture capital and investor judges.

Judges evaluate the businesses based on the investment potential of the competitors’ new ventures. More than 138 past competitors have successfully launched their companies and are in business today or have had successful exits, and have raised more than $600 million in funding.