Over $100K in cash and in-kind prizes was split among 12 student-led entrepreneur teams that took top prizes at the 2016 Paul Merage School of Business – Business Plan Competition. The event was hosted at the Cove and cosponsored by UCI Applied Innovation and the Paul Merage School of Business. Community business leaders serving as judges awarded winners in numerous categories after a full day of pitches by 39 finalists out of an initial pool of more than 80 applicants. The teams presented both in person and through an online video competition sponsored by Indi.com, a Cove startup and ecosystem partner founded by UCI alum Neel Grover. The top teams shared more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.
“This year the Beall Center had the opportunity to partner with UCI Applied Innovation, and this opened up many wonderful opportunities for our students as well as our business community,” said Imran Currim, chancellor’s professor of marketing and director of the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The competition has attracted more student participants than we’ve ever had, along with more prize money, and more coaches, mentors and judges. We are excited to have grown such a great Business Plan Competition in terms of monetary prizes and participation, and we are truly impressed with the outstanding, innovative students we have involved this year.”
Teams advanced in the competition according to specific tracks which were designed to represent the variety of business ideas being pitched. The track component, which was new to the Business Plan Competition this year, contributed to the greater diversity and depth of team participation from across campus. In some cases, teams were eligible for more than one track.
The main track categories were Life Science, Consumer Products and IT/Web. Special prizes were also given for teams working in certain areas, including Tech Surge for those working with UCI intellectual property; the Blum Center Award for Poverty Alleviation; and the School of Medicine Award for teams working with specific School of Medicine intellectual property. Additionally, a track award was presented to the overall most outstanding undergraduate business plan, and another track award was designated for the best business plan in the Pivot Program bracket which consisted of all plans that did not advance to the finals. UCI Blackstone LaunchPad provided valuable one-on-one mentorship to teams who participated in the Pivot Program.