Houston Chronicle, March 23, 2007 HOUSTON - Their pitch was simple - a straight smile in half the time. And that catchy line helped students from the University of Illinois at Chicago sell their idea to start a business to a Houston investor during the annual Rice University business plan competition last year. Chris Wasden, a former investment banker who judged the competition, licensed the technology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and paid students an undisclosed amount for their plan. Since then Wasden has started a venture to develop that product, which he hopes to have on the market by 2009. Selling an idea is the dream of dozens of competitors from across the world who are in Houston this week for the 2007 Rice University Business Plan Competition. This year, the competition features many plans based on biotechnology and the life sciences. The team from UCLA, for example, wants to develop a minimally invasive surgical procedure to treat glaucoma. Students from the University of Illinois at Chicago are promoting an imaging technology that can predict cardiovascular diseases. And the Rice University team's plan is built around medical tests used to tell if a woman is at risk for a premature delivery. The technology was developed by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.