Cum Laude
You'll be hearing more about the teams that advanced to our semifinal round.
By Amanda Gengler

(FORTUNE Small Business) – The seven semifinalists that vied with our winners should make a mark. Besides the four profiled here, they include Carnegie Mellon's ClearCount, which has found a way to keep surgical sponges from being left in patients; the University of California at Davis's Instant Effects, which is giving average PC users motion-picture-quality video capabilities; and the University of Chicago's Midway Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a preventive drug for a gastrointestinal disease that kills thousands of babies.


Property Solutions International hit a few bumps after it won last year's contest. But after redesigning its property-management software and renaming it Resident Works ("Vantage XP" wasn't catchy enough), the team, from Brigham Young, has increased its clients from 57 to 360. In September it closed a $550,000 round of financing. Founder David Bateman, 26, projects $500,000 in sales for 2004, up from $243,000 last year. And with a new director of sales and marketing set to come onboard, he's optimistic about continued growth. "Our business model has really confirmed itself," he says. —AMANDA GENGLER

Kidsmart, which makes smoke detectors that wake kids with a recording of a parent's voice, placed second in last year's contest. (Studies show that children often sleep through traditional alarms but will respond to a parent's urging.) The Atlanta company, which was launched at the University of Georgia's MBA program, has caught fire. The Vocal Smoke Detector, retailing for $69.95, is already selling in SkyMall and in Hammacher Schlemmer's fall catalog. With $1 million from private investors and 2004 sales expected to reach $2 million, co-founders Bruce Black, 30, and Matt Ferris, 27, are ramping up production in China in preparation for a retail launch. What's next? A vocal smoke detector that can be hard-wired into a home's electrical system. —BRANDI STEWART

After Taking Third Place in our contest last year, Jadoo Power Systems hit it big, raising $5 million from Sinclair Ventures, a subsidiary of the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group. Since then the team from the Harvard Business School has been on a growth jag. The Folsom, Calif., company, which makes fuel cells that power devices such as weapons-surveillance systems, global-positioning devices, and broadcast cameras, has opened a factory in California, is expanding its staff of 22 by 50%, and hopes to move into Europe and Asia by the end of 2005. In June the National Association of Broadcasters honored Jadoo for outstanding technological achievement in the broadcast industry. Although Jadoo would not disclose its annual sales, CEO Larry Bawden, 46, expects revenue to double next year, thanks in part to a recent surge of interest in Jadoo's products for spy cameras, fueled by law enforcement officials tracking terrorists. —JOI PRECIPHS