By Anne VanderMey
FORTUNE -- The elevator pitch contest is a time-honored tradition of the MBA business plan competition. At Wake Forest University, it even takes place in an actual moving elevator.
The Rice Business Plan Competition has its own take on the ritual. The premise: You walk into an elevator with Warren Buffett and you have 33 floors (60 seconds) to convince him to invest in your startup idea. This year at Rice, 42 teams delivered that hypothetical minute-long speech to a standing-room only crowd in the business school's 460-seat auditorium in Houston. The judges will dole out awards on Saturday, and the winning team will take home $1,000. But for now, Fortune picked a few its own champions.
Best MacGyver impression
"What if I told you I could save one million lives every year with just refrigerator magnets and a laser pointer?" --Disease Diagnostic Group at Case Western Reserve University
The team plans to use the magnetic charge of malaria parasites to develop a new, cheaper, way to detect the disease in developing countries.
"As a future physician, I'm excited to share how BriteSeed can save tens of thousand of lives and billions in wasteful spending." --BriteSeed, Northwestern University, delivered while wearing scrubs
Briteseed has developed a technology called SafeSnips, which will alert surgeons performing robotic procedures when they are about to cut a blood vessel at risk of uncontrolled bleeding.
Biggest potential to make money while ruining your morning commute
"1.6 billion people ride the New York subway every year and virtually all of them are cut off from cell phone coverage, costing millions per week to advertisers and service providers." --EnKinta Energy, University of Southern California
The team wants to use the kinetic energy created by moving trains to generate power and bring Wi-Fi and cell phone service to straphangers. That morning subway ride could get more profitable -- and louder.
"Ladies and gentlemen, passwords can't protect us anymore." --Excalibur, Harvard University and Technical University Kosice, Slovakia
Excalibur's technology would effectively turn your cell phone into a secureID. They estimate that it takes $130 to hack a Facebook (FB) or Twitter account, $160 for a Gmail account, and $500 for a corporate mailbox.
"Forget the lows, it's time to get high." --Kaffeination, University of Manchester, England
Taking aim at the booming energy drink market, this team has already sold more than 5,000 bags of caffeine-infused gummy bears to students in the UK looking for a boost.
More from Rice Business Plan Competition:
Past Rice Business Plan Competition victors dish on when to ignore the judges, how to pick investors, and what to do after you go home.Apr 12, 2013 12:49 PM ET
Designer Trina Turk talks to Fortune about the pros and cons of launching a line without a business plan and how to stay low drama in a cutthroat industry.Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter - Feb 25, 2013 5:00 AM ET
The first employees of a new business must be up for more than just what's written in a job description. Here are a few things to consider when hiring or if you are considering joining a new company.Nov 1, 2012 11:49 AM ET
Isn't it a contradiction in terms to be an entrepreneur within a large corporation? By Katherine Reynolds LewisAug 13, 2012 1:07 PM ET
Despite the convention that entrepreneurs act like arrogant babies, most exceptional leaders tend to balance their convictions with a sense of healthy dose of humility. By Anthony TjanAug 7, 2012 10:57 AM ET
The old paradigm -- get good grades, go to college, get a job, start a family -- is becoming a luxury for the few. How much longer are we going to tell this generation that "good" jobs will simply reappear? By Scott GerberJul 2, 2012 1:48 PM ET
A record-breaking 16% of Stanford B-school's class of 2011 chose to start their own companies at graduation, exceeding the school's 12% peak during the dot-com boom. By John A. ByrneJun 1, 2012 5:00 AM ET
MBA admissions deans are looking for people who have launched successful, or even unsuccessful, businesses to fill spots in entrepreneurial labs and other programs. By Shawn O'ConnorMay 31, 2012 10:20 AM ET
Behind the scenes at the annual contest for budding entrepreneurs.
By David A. Kaplan and Anne VanderMey
FORTUNE -- It may not have the ubiquity of Facebook or the scale of Wal-Mart, but NuMat Technologies someday could change the world just a little bit. At least that's what the audacious student entrepreneurs behind it believe. NuMat is a university spinout that aims to revolutionize clean tech by making natural-gas vehicles more MOREMay 17, 2012 5:00 AM ET
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