Doctoral student wins Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest with clean water technology

An icon graphic representing Research in Action, from the Beyond Boundries Strategic PlanPaige Peters, a doctoral student in the Opus College of Engineering, was the grand prize winner of the 20th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest with Rapid Radicals Technology, her Milwaukee-based company which is revolutionizing treatment of combined sewer and storm overflows to prevent untreated sewage from being dumped into our lakes and rivers during floods.

Rapid Radical’s innovative technology reduces current wastewater treatment time from eight hours to 30 minutes, allowing for municipal scale management where there is a spill point confluence of storm and sanitary sewers. Peters is founder and chief technology officer for Rapid Radicals, which was among 13 “Diligent (Baker’s) Dozen” finalists to present to judges and others during the 20th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. The company is commercializing technology developed at Marquette.

Rapid Radicals was also the winner of the contest’s Advanced Manufacturing category.

“It is always super exciting to see technology transfer working this way: from an academic invention to a product that will benefit the public and is also good for the Earth,” said Dr. Kalpa Vithalani, executive director of technology transfer at Marquette and a member of the Tech Council’s Board of Directors. “Through her research and innovation, Paige is bringing research to life. She is also a great example for others at Marquette who aspire to bring their innovations to market and Be The Difference.”

The contest is produced by the Tech Council, which is the non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Wisconsin State Legislature. Each plan described the core product or service, defined the customer base, estimated the size of the market, identified competition, described the management team and provided key financial data.

Peters graduated with a B.S. in environmental engineering from Marquette and returned to the university to pursue her M.S. in Environmental Engineering with an emphasis on water and wastewater treatment. Initially supported by the National Science Foundation-funded Water Equipment and Policy – Industry/University Collaborative Research Center, the research focused on developing a high-rate advanced wastewater treatment process. Marquette has filed patent applications on this important technology. Rapid Radicals has received over $1.6 million in grant awards that are helping turn the startup’s foundational technology into a viable product.

Paul Jones, vice president for university relations and general counsel at Marquette, was also a finalist in the competition with a company he co-founded, ReinventAuctions, which provides frictionless digital trading platforms for dealer-to-dealer wholesale vehicle exchanges in targeted industries. The company took second place in the “Business Services” category and took home the “Bright New Idea” award.

Sponsors for the contest are contributing cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, information technology consulting, marketing, event space and more. About $2.5 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest in 2004. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is a major sponsor.