Eighteen semifinalist teams competed on the UC Berkeley (UCB) campus October 2 for four first prizes, each including $10,000 cash, $2,000 in supplies, mentoring from experts, and a space in the new Venture Lab housed in the College of Engineering.
The Venture Lab Competition -- in collaboration with the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (CET) in the College of Engineering and the Management of Technology (MOT) Program - asked teams of Berkeley students, faculty and staff to present in three minutes how their entrepreneurial project or business solves a problem facing society. Seven expert judges, mostly from the venture and entrepreneurial community, were on hand to provide feedback and to choose the winners. Invited guests were Venture Lab's network of mentors consisting primarily of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business development executives, and other professionals.
Unlike traditional business plan competitions, the Venture Lab Competition does not require students to submit a formal business plan. Instead, teams submit a simple application that focuses on pain points, solutions, potential market size, and their own progress on the problem. Semifinalists are asked to touch on these main points in a very short presentation.
The quality of this year's work was impressive and the winners ranged from energy storage to shoe-buying. GreenLight Energy has developed an innovative charge controller for standalone photovoltaic (PV) systems. MODISTA, a shoe retailing site, has a unique web interface powered by specialized image similarity and machine learning algorithms to allow consumers to browse large collections intuitively. Nano Precision Medical has devised a subcutaneously implantable drug-delivery device that allows the long-term release of molecules such as interferon, used in the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV). E&M Devices designed an electromagnetic energy harvester that uses engine vibrations to power sensor networks in automobiles.
Ikhlaq Sidhu, Associate Dean of Technology Leadership Studies and founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, and Burghardt Tenderich, Technology & Leadership Studies Executive Director, spearheaded the competition. Professor Sidhu stated that "Our goal for Venture Lab is to seek out promising new entrepreneurial teams from U.C. Berkeley and then focus our attention, resources and professional network on contributing to their success. A handful of past Venture Lab companies have been funded by our network and are now valued at approximately $100 million and employ over 100 people."
Venture Lab partners served as judges for the competition. They were Mark Albert, partner, Perkins Coie; Shomit Ghose, partner, Onset Ventures; Yogesh Patel, co-founder, NanoCity; Insik Rhee, Accel Partners; and John Steuart, Partner, Claremont Creek Ventures.
More About the Winners:
Online apparel retailer, MODISTA increases browsing potential, thereby bridging the gap between the real-world and internet shopping experiences. Founders Arlo Faria and AJ Shankar, both EECS graduate students, created the unique web interface powered by specialized image similarity and machine learning algorithms to allow consumers to browse large collections of apparel items, using their visual intuition, just as they would in a traditional store.
Creators of E&M Devices, Eri Takahashi, Applied Science & Technology graduate student and Matt Senesky, PhD, EECS, consulting with Prof. Albert Pisano of ME, designed an electromagnetic energy harvestor to use engine vibrations to power sensor networks in automobiles.
GreenLight Energy founders Sonesh Surana, and Jason Stauth, both EECS graduate students, with EECS Professor Eric Brewer, PI, developed a charge controller for standalone photovoltaic (PV) systems that interface PV panels to battery energy storage units, for application in rural areas where ties to reliable electrical grids are not available.
Nano Precision Medical is comprised of bioengineering graduate students Adam Mendelsohn, Kayte Fischer and Lily Peng, with Professor Tejal Desai, Bioengineering, PI. They devised a sub-cutaneously implantable drug-delivery device which allows the long-term release of molecules such as interferon, used in the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV).