Student Entrepreneurs Win Coveted Award: Funding and Access to VC Expert
Oct. 31, 2006
Ute S. Frey
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
Aurora Biofuels, a Berkeley-based team whose technology promises to make bio-diesel a mainstream energy source, won the second global Intel+UC Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge on Thursday, October 26, at the University of California, Berkeley campus.
The global business plan competition invited entrepreneurial teams from 19 Arab, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Russian, Singaporean, and US universities. The competition is sponsored by Intel and hosted by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
The competition is designed to promote the unique combination of technical innovation and entrepreneurial skills at higher education institutions around the globe. It brings together the best research institutions around the world in partnership with regional business plan competitions to find teams and technologies with the potential for positive global impact.
Aurora Biofuels won the grand prize of $25,000 for presenting technology which confronts consumer demand for green energy. Biodiesel is gaining acceptance as a practical alternative to petroleum-based fuels, as it can be distributed via existing infrastructure and can be used in unmodified diesel engines.
The winning team, Aurora Biofuels, consisted of CEO Matt Caspari and Vice President of Engineering Guido Radaelli, both of the Berkeley MBA class of 2006; Vice President of Research and Development Bert Vick, also a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in molecular and cell biology; and Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operations Officer David Hansmann.
The competition awarded a prize for second place of $10,000 to Richcore Lifesciences from Bangalore, India. The company has developed a proprietary technology that imparts hygroscopic properties to ordinary paper, enabling it to absorb moisture from the atmosphere and remain moist perpetually. The
Chilight from Peking University, People's Republic of China, and Watel Solutions from Arizona State University tied for the third-place prize of $5,000. Chilight developed a lighting source in the form of energy saving LED chips. Watel Solutions' solar-powered technology produces potable water by condensing humidity from the air to address the poor quality and scarcity of drinkable water primarily in Africa.
The Humanitarian Prize went to Gravitonus, a medical device company that developed an Alternative Computer Control System (ACCS) that helps paralyzed individuals efficiently control computers and resume active lives.
The People’s Choice Prize of $5,000, decided by audience members at the concluding ceremonies held as part of the Lester Center's Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum at the Haas School, was awarded to Watel Solutions.
"Intel seeks to foster technology innovation and create an atmosphere where the entrepreneurial spirit can thrive," said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital, Intel’s venture capital organization. "We are impressed by the level of dedication and sophistication demonstrated by this year's teams. Education should foster an entrepreneurial culture that encourages a wealth of visionary ideas."
“This event gathers the sharpest entrepreneurs from around the world; it's very stiff competition,” said Jerome Engel, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We are thrilled that Intel has recognized this unique setting -- the Haas School and its Lester Center -- which works to promote global innovation in both technology and business.”
The 19 finalist teams in the challenge were selected as the best technology-based ventures that emerged from 10 affiliated business plan competitions around the world: the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition; the Business Innovation Technology competition, a collaboration of six Russian universities; Tec de Monterrey's Premio Intel competition in Mexico; National University of Singapore's Start-Up@Singapore Enterprise Launcher; India Learning Links Foundation; China College Technology Entrepreneurship Competition; Brazil 1st GV-Intel Challenge of Entrepreneurship; NOVATECH Com (covering Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey); Pan Arab University Technology Biz Plan Competition; and Arizona State University's Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The finalist teams presented their technologies and business plans to a panel of judges drawn from venture capital firms with global reach – Intel Capital, Partech International, Newbury Ventures, Capital Valley Ventures and Alloy Ventures. In addition to cash prizes and experience in a global competition, this access to potential funders is a major reward for participating teams.
For more information, visit the web site at www.entrepreneurshipchallenge.org/.