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Ambiq Micro Wins DFJ-Cisco Global Business Plan Competition


July 8, 2010 - 0 Comments

Last week Cisco and leading global early stage venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) announced the winners of their second annual Global Business Plan Competition and the recipient of a seed investment totaling $250,000. The winner is Ambiq Micro, a spin-out from the The University of Michigan led by two young entrepreneurs who may have just created the world’s most energy-efficient microcontroller  (and the next best thing to happen to fashion – see below). Selected from over 1,000 applicants hailing from 17 different countries, members from the DFJ Global Network and Cisco executives met Tuesday with finalists from across the globe, using state-of-the-art Telepresence™ technology to discuss face-to-face how these entrepreneurs will change the world.

Looking to enter the DFJ-Cisco business plan competition next year? Check out some advice from Cisco Vice President of Corporate Development Hilton Romanski, DFJ Managing Director Tim Draper, and winner Ambiq Micro’s CEO Scott Hanson on the importance of innovation, particularly during times of economic stagnation.    

Ambiq Micro CEO Scott Hanson explained how his new microcontroller device is critically important for the upcoming revolution in computing. This revolution will be defined by the demand for energy-efficient extended battery life and the pervasiveness of microcontrollers, tiny little computers which in the future may be used to monitor everything from biorhythms to the safety of your environment.  In their presentation, Hanson and fellow business partner Phil O’Neil explained how their smaller-than-a-penny device could allow for microprocessors to be implanted in places no computer has dared go before, like the Sherwin Williams primer on your walls and the sling-back Jimmy Choos on your feet.  Cisco Vice President of Corporate Development Hilton Romanski explained the impact Ambiq Micro’s energy-efficient microcontroller may have on the future of technology. “This device is important because it might enable you to have a better life, or in some cases, to do a better job.”

But don’t worry, the competition wasn’t entirely about energy-efficient mini-computers and how that could eventually help you put more RAM in your sling-backs. Here’s a fun fact wrap-up:

  1. One of the finalists from China, Deli Worm, has a plan to create a maggot farm designed to save the fate of fish as we know it. They cited a recent documentary, claiming that by 2048, 90% of the fish population will be depleted. In their words, “If you want your grandchildren to know what fish look like, you’ll invest in Deli Worm.”
  2. The finalists from Brazil, Silicon Reef, appeared before the judges sporting the jerseys of their favorite for the World Cup. Which team? You guessed it – Brazil. 
  3. Despite winning a quarter of a million dollars and the continued support of Cisco and DFJ, Hanson said that the Telepresence™ experience was his favorite part of the competition.
  4. 4 of the 16 companies competing in the final round had female CEOs.
  5. DFJ Managing Director Tim Draper and Hanson may now be business partners, but there was still at least one area where they weren’t on the same page.  Although Hanson likened the week’s events to the “The World Cup of business plan competitions”, Draper proudly referred to it as the “The Nobel Prize for entrepreneurs.” Better get the FIFA referees from Norway on the line.


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