Engineering Students Place Well in 2020 New Venture Competition

June 4, 2020 – The Merage School's Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship conducted its first ever virtual live “Shark Tank”-style pitch in the final round of this year’s New Venture Competition, held May 21. Ten teams walked away with cash and prizes valued at over $91,000; three of the winning teams included Samueli School engineering students.

The finale was broadcast via Zoom webinar to an audience of over 400 viewers tuning in from locations across the globe. Five Orange County investors and entrepreneur ecosystem influencers judged the competition, contributing thoughtful feedback to the teams. Although the judges considered specific criteria when evaluating concept papers and pitch decks, they ultimately chose the winning teams based on which pitches they would most likely invest their own money in.  

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

Bottle Built took home awards in two categories. The team earned second place in the Social Enterprise category ($5,000) and the award as Audience Favorite ($1,000). Bottle Built constructs affordable housing utilizing cheaper and more sustainable materials than those used in conventional methods. This is achieved by using recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastics as the main building material.

CannTek earned second place in the Life Sciences category ($5,000). CannTek is a unique and simple electrochemical device used to quantitatively detect levels of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, through the processing of saliva samples. The team’s mission is to save lives by providing the necessary tools for employers and law enforcement to establish safe working and driving environments while protecting the legal right of citizens to consume cannabis products. CannTek’s entire team was made up of biomedical engineers, chemical engineers and material science engineers.

Prophet Predictive Modeling, whose team goal is to use machine learning techniques in financial trading, won the second-place prize in the Consumer Services category ($5,000). Over the past year, the students have been successfully trading real money – more than $100K – using the team’s money management service models created for accredited investors. 

The UCI New Venture Competition is open to all UCI students, staff members and researchers as well as community members. This year, 100 concepts were initially submitted. The competition offers participants the opportunity to form a team, launch a startup and potentially fund a business idea, all within seven months.

– Megan Lohre

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