Thursday, May 21, 2015

Student Teams Win Over $45K in Recent Competitions

This last month, students and teams from the Entrepreneurism and Leadership Programs competed in several citywide, statewide and nationwide business competitions, and collectively, two student teams and two graduate students took home over $45000 in cash prizes. UC San Diego student teams ByStanders to Upstanders and Open Viral Load (previously named VivaScope) each won $10,000 of award funding for their projects from the San Diego Social Innovation Challenge. Graduate student Alex Phan won $2,500 for placing in first at the UC San Diego Grad Slam and $1,000 for placing in third at the first UC-wide Grad Slam competition. And, graduate student Aliaksandr Zaretski took home $25,000 cash and $20,000 in equity for receiving first place at Chapman University’s California Dreamin’ nationwide entrepreneurial contest.

The San Diego Social Innovation Challenge is an annual competition hosted by the University of San Diego and their Center for Peace and Commerce. The competition aims to promote, guide and support student-driven ideas to launch or contribute to social enterprises, and has several rounds of idea labs and perfecting project pitches and business models. The Social Innovation Challenge had over 100 project submissions from San Diego university students and three rounds of challenges and project eliminations. For the final award ceremony, the remaining eight USD teams and eight San Diego-wide teams gave 90-second pitches in front of a live panel of judges. Of those eight San Diego-wide teams, four teams came from UC San Diego.

After making the final pitch competition, Global TIES team Open Viral Load partnered with Engineering World Health, another UCSD finalist team of the Social Innovation Challenge, deciding that it would be beneficial to move forward in the competition together. The teams presented one pitch on their collaborative social venture and received $10,000 to fund their projects that focus on expanding the access of HIV testing. mystartupXX team Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U) also took home $10,000 for their application to encourage and gamify volunteer work.

Alex Phan, MAE Ph.D. Candidate
Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
Read UC San Diego News Center Release here
Graduate student Alex Phan took first place at the UC San Diego-wide Grad SLAM 2015 and third place UC-wide Grad Slam competition. Both competitions challenge graduate students to present a “TED-like talk” that can explain their graduate research to a general audience and award cash prizes. As the first prize winner at the UC San Diego Grad SLAM 2015 competition held last month on April 14, Phan was chosen to represent UC San Diego at the UC-wide competition in Oakland. Phan went against 9 other graduate students from the other UC schools and took home third place for his presentation on how an intraocular pressure sensor can better detect and understand glaucoma, an eye disease that affects over 60 million people worldwide.

After completing his undergraduate degree in Bioengineering at UC San Diego, Phan is now currently pursuing his Ph.D in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Phan has also completed the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center’s NSF I-Corps Program in October 2014, where he was able to combine his background in engineering with his interests in entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, Phan took home first prize at Entrepreneur Challenge’s Elevator Pitch Competition.

Nanoengineering graduate student Aliaksandr (Alex) Zaretski represented UC San Diego at the 2015 California Dreamin’ Entrepreneurship Conference and Competition and took home $25,000 in cash, $20,000 in equity and first prize in the overall competition. The annual competition, hosted by Chapman University, draws students from the best business and entrepreneurship programs from the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2013, Zaretski took home first prizes at the Entrepreneur Challenge at UCSD’s Elevator Pitch Competition and their $100K Business Competition with his company, GrollTex. GrollTex has an innovative technology for the synthesis of large-area graphene and has been an impressive startup success. Zarestski was awarded the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center’s Department of Energy Fellowship and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship last spring, and GrollTex recently accepted investment from the Triton Technology Fund and is in talks for a large-scale investment from another venture capital firm.

Our students show us time and again that passion and hard work don’t go unnoticed. Congratulations again to these students for their continued achievements!

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