Three leaders from UC Irvine (UCI) startup companies recently received Innovator of the Year awards from the Orange County Business Journal during the publication’s fifth annual Innovator of the Year Award ceremony at Hotel Irvine. The award recognizes individuals and their organizations who are creating impactful products and services and demonstrate brilliance and leadership in innovation.
“Your survival depends on innovation and the emotional journey to getting there,” said Dean Stoecker, chairman and CEO of Alteryx and the event’s keynote speaker. “It takes grit, creativity, patience and discipline. Innovators and entrepreneurs are a remarkable bunch. I happen to be in the same camp as you: unafraid to get started on the journey, blindly going where few are willing to go, taking risks that so many are unwilling to take, passionately hoping to change the world.”
Neel Grover, serial entrepreneur, co-founded UCI startup company Indi, a photo and video engagement platform that gives people the ability to earn money from posting product reviews. Indi, a former tenant of the Cove @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation, helps customers make buying decisions and gives brands the ability to track their most loyal customers via a commissioned virtual sales force.
“We’re trying to do something very different now, giving the power back to the brands, giving the power back to the retailers,” said Grover. “I’m really excited to do it here in Orange County, could think of no better place to do it … just so excited to see entrepreneurship so strong in Orange County.”
Mark Bachman, co-founder and chief technology officer of UCI startup Xidas (formerly Integra Devices), uses UCI intellectual property to provide new types of micro-devices for high-value markets like telecom, aerospace, manufacturing and medicine. The startup recently completed a $6 million Series A funding round to pursue their latest focus on commercializing their micro-relay.
“It’s a great honor to receive this award, I have to say it doesn’t belong to me,” said Bachman. “It belongs to many people. Any innovator would admit that many people are part of the innovation process, that’s certainly true for me.”
Andrew Ninh, co-founder and CEO of Docbot, a healthcare software that captures advanced patient data during care using an artificial
intelligence-enabled platform, recently exited Y Combinator, a top American seed funding accelerator and received $2.045 million in seed funding. The team, a part of UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s Wayfinder incubator, plans to expand their artificial intelligence platform to focus on other diseases in addition to identifying malignant colon cancer polyps.
“What really kept us going was our passion for the problem, helping the patients out there,” said Ninh. “We’re honored to be here today, we’re happy to be a part of the Orange County community. … We hope to eliminate all the cancers out there with artificial intelligence and regular screenings.”
At the event’s conclusion, Huan Wang, a graduate student and research assistant from UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering, received the second annual Maschoff Brennan Student Innovator scholarship award of $2,500. Wang, along with his team, has developed a new wireless transceiver and has four patents with UCI.
Main photo: Dean Stoecker, chairman and CEO of Alteryx, gives keynote address at Hotel Irvine for Orange County Business Journal’s Innovator of the Year Awards ceremony.