Engineering Fares Well in Business Plan Competition

PuristMay 19, 2017 - Forty-one teams competed in the final round of the 2017 New Venture Competition held Friday, May 12 at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business. Fifteen groups walked away with cash and prizes valued at more than $100,000; six of the winning teams included engineering students or faculty.

The Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted the event in collaboration with UCI Applied Innovation. A panel of professionals made up of experienced investors, entrepreneurs and senior business practitioners familiar with early stage companies judged the entrants and evaluated them on the strength of their plan and overall presentation.   

Here are the winning teams that counted Anteater engineers as members.

BrainCheck, a portable, user-friendly, non-invasive, brain computer interface that takes advantage of wireless technology and hardware filtering, won first place in the consumer products category ($4,000). Team Members: engineering and material sciences students Garvin Arellano, Tina Chan, Junghyun Kim, Jordan Samonte and Thomas Tran.

Salux Diagnostics earned second place in the life sciences category ($1,500) and outstanding undergraduate team in tech surge area ($1,000). Salux Diagnostics is a technology that impacts the quality and efficiency of patient burn injury care. Team Members: biomedical engineering students Dimple Patel, Eashani Sathialibgam, Akshita Agrawal, Shreya Akkenapally, Maaikee Pronda and Kevin Trieu.

Purist, which provides radioactive ingredients to treat cancer using small-scale and localized nuclear reactors, took two prizes: the School of Medicine award ($15,000) and first place in the tech surge category ($10,000). Team Members: chemical engineering postdoctoral scholar Leila Safavi-Tehrani; executive MBA students Kim Westerbeck, Donald Magnuson and Daniel Dai; Associate Professor Mikael Nilsson from chemical engineering and materials science; and Professor Joyce Keyak from Radiological Science.

Esqalate is a nonprofit that operates two sister web platforms aimed at providing low-income and working-class Americans with meaningful access to justice: Proboknow and Lowboknow. It won first place under designing solutions for poverty alleviation ($10,000). Team Members: Chad Trainer and Ilja Goushcha; sociology student Joubin Khazaie; and biomedical engineering student Mahan Naeim.

APIC Diagnostics, a point-of-care diagnostic device that is non-invasive and can analyze saliva, was a runner up in tech surge ($7,500). Team Members: full-time MBA student Pravin Surana, ecology & evolutionary biology postdoctoral researcher Anandkumar Surendrarao, biomedical engineering student Cyril Soliman, and biotechnology management graduate student Ishita Gulati.

Syntr Health Technologies, an innovative approach to applying mechanical shear stress to enrich stem cells without the use of any chemical reagents or growth factors, won honorable mention in tech surge ($2,500). Team Members: biomedical engineering students Ahmed Zobi, Justin Stovner and Hugo Salas, biological sciences major Jade Tassey, medical graduate student Beatrice Sun, biomedical engineering graduate student Xiaolong Qiu, and plastic surgery research fellow Derek Banyard. 

NanoShield Biotix, a technology that reduces the risk of contamination on medical devices from disease causing agents, also won honorable mention in tech surge ($2,500). Team Members: administration health care graduate student Roger Sohn, ophthalmology student Kate Xie, community member Andrew Schmerl, and chemical engineering and materials science graduate students Elena Liang and Rachel Rosenzweig.

Now in its 11th year, the New Venture Competition, formerly the Merage School Business Plan Competition, was entirely restructured and redesigned based on feedback from students, judges and coaches, as well as the mission of the Beall Center, which is to provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the process of innovation and entrepreneurship.  As a result, the competition boasts a broader variety of participants from schools, centers and institutions across UCI and beyond. Students, faculty and community members participated.

–  Lori Brandt