Advanced Biofuels

Algae Biotech Service Startup Wins University of Wyoming Entrepreneurship Competition

Date Posted: April 9, 2012

A business plan that targets the emerging algal biomass industry recently was judged the top proposal in the John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Wyoming College of Business.

Levi Lowder, a molecular biology doctoral candidate from Durango, Colo., and his PlanktOMICS team won $12,500 and one year of free rent to further develop the company at the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC).

The WTBC offers a technology business incubator and an outreach program focused on early-stage, high-growth companies.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2006, offers laboratory, office and shared-conference room space for client companies as well as a state-of-the-art data center.

Lowder, team leader and head bioengineer, says PlanktOMICS seeks to be an innovative leader in providing biotechnological services and products for an emerging algal biomass industry.

The company provides advanced phenotype analysis and screening services, custom algal vector design and construction, algal transformation and gene-expression analysis.

His partners are Stephen Herbert, algal phenotyping specialist and senior adviser; Jacob Miller, laboratory service and business specialist; and staff consultant Min-Hyung Ryu, a genetic engineering and molecular biology consultant and a molecular biology doctoral candidate.

The John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition is designed to encourage students in the UW community to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow's leading businesses.

The $30K competition awards cash prizes to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submit their business plans for new ventures showing significant business potential.

For more information about the competition, visit the website at or contact Rachel Stevens in the College of Business Management and Marketing Department, at (307) 766-3124 or e-mail

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