LONDON, CANADA--Last week, the winners of the premier business plan competition in Canada were announced. And the sciences scored big: two of the top three prizes went to health science related businesses.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce/Richard Ivey School of Business competition, organized by students at the Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey), is a national competition, judged by Canadian venture capitalists based on the "investment worthiness" of the business plans. This year, C$25,000 was given out to the top five contestants, with the top business plan receiving a cash prize of C$15,000.

Only two of the 25 entries were science-related, but they both brought home cash awards. "Of the 25 plans submitted, two were health care related--and they both ended up in the final round, placing first and third overall," explained Dave Martin, a member of the organizing committee for the event. "The winning plan was for an e-health care business, an area that will likely see explosive growth in the next few years. The plan in third place was for a business that provides unique therapies for brain injury patients." As a Ph.D. biotechnologist attending Ivey for his MBA, Martin was understandably quite jubilant at the result: "It made me quite happy to see venture capital interest in these two plans--it bodes well for health care entrepreneurs in Canada." Clare Biddulph, the president of the winning entrant, DementiaGuide.com, was just as optimistic: "I think Internet-based health care is the future of health care. More and more people are searching for their health care information needs on the Internet."

Winning a national competition has also helped DementiaGuide.com distinguish itself in the crowded field of potential Internet health start-ups. Says Biddulph, "We received opportunities and contacts that would have been much harder to get if it hadn't been for the competition. We've received significant media coverage, as well as visibility to venture capitalists in Ontario, Boston, and New York."

The success of the two science-related proposals has encouraged the competition organizers to look for more science plans. "I'd like to see some biotech business plans next year. With more Ph.D.s entering Canadian MBA programs, the CIBC/Ivey Business Plan Competition might attract a few biotech plans in the 2001 competition," said Martin.

Already have a biotech plan ready to go? Try the BioSpace Business Plan Competition, hosted by Biospace.com in conjunction with the GSAS Harvard Biotechnology Club. Their entry deadline is April 28.