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Big Bang! Business Competition Challenge Awards
$25,000 in cash prizes for innovative solutions in science or business

The UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce three new Big Bang! Business Competition challenge awards, which ask teams to present an innovative solution in a specific area of science or business. The sponsors for each challenge award will participate in selecting  the winning team, providing aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs a rare pitch opportunity.

Teams that did not enter by the 2017 Big Bang! Business Competition deadline of February 23 may be considered for a Challenge Award by submitting the following deliverables by 11:59 p.m. on April 11:

  • Executive summary
  • Team bios
  • Customer call summary (10 calls)
  • Video pitch
  • Draft pitch deck

NOTE: Teams that enter the Big Bang! competition at this time will only be considered for the challenge awards and are not eligible for other Big Bang! prizes. The Big Bang! will present all 2017 prizes at an awards ceremony on May 25.

Register Now >

For more information, contact Karen Harding-Davis, Big Bang! program coordinator. 

We are grateful for this strong vote of confidence from the business community about the power of UC Davis to drive innovation in agriculture, food, environment, and energy sectors.

Syngas Challenge Award: $10,000

Sponsored by Sierra Energy

This award will be given to a team developing a business concept around synthesis gas. Synthesis gas—or “syngas”—is a fuel gas mixture consisting primarily of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and often carbon dioxide, and is often a byproduct of waste decomposition. The name comes from its use as an intermediate in creating synthetic natural gas and for producing ammonia or methanol. Syngas is usually a product of gasification, and the main application is electricity generation. Syngas can help in the processes of creating clean water, fertilizer, power and fuel.

Interested teams should demonstrate a technology that can reasonably be made from synthetic gases, particularly those with a mixture of up to 30 percent hydrogen and 60 percent carbon monoxide. Preference is given for realistic waste-derived synthetic gas compositions that include impurities. Demonstration of technology can be either process/flow engineering modeling or laboratory bench scale, with preference given to experimentally validated solutions. Special consideration will be given to a technology that creates the highest value end-product ($/kg[incoming syngas]). Technology should be economically feasible using the following parameters:

  • Scale of operation: receiving 500 kg/hr to 2,500 kg/hr of syngas (30% H2, 70% CO); 

  • Cost of the incoming syngas: zero cost ($0.00 / MMBTU);

  • Cost of utilities: assume California utilities pricing of $0.10/kWhe for electricity and $2.50/MMBTU for natural gas; and
  • Sale price of end products: typical current sales price of commodities within the U.S. (three- or 12-month average price)

NOTE: Entrants may not contact Sierra Energy management or ownership for additional information. All information used or included in the submission must be obtained through noncompany interviews or other means that could be reasonably accessible to any team.

Gowan Co. and AGR Challenge Award: $10,000

Sponsored by the Gowan Co. and AGR Partners

This award is intended for teams interested in increasing resource efficiency in agriculture or food systems. It will be awarded to a new or existing venture that demonstrates excellent promise to do “more with less” with resources (water, fertilizer, pesticides/herbicides and other resource additions).

NOTE: Entrants may not contact the Gowan Co. or AGR Partners management or ownership for additional information. All information used or included in the submission must be obtained through noncompany interviews or other means that could be reasonably accessible to any team.

EVCO Challenge Award: $5,000

Sponsored by EVCO Plastics

This award, sponsored by the agricultural division of EVCO Plastics, is intended for teams that are interested in honing their skills in transforming an existing company. Interested teams will respond to a real business challenge of transforming a small agriculture division of a large multinational privately held company. Entrants will compete for a $5,000 award and the opportunity to present to top company leadership.

Teams will be evaluated on their ability to provide a compelling plan to transform and scale the agricultural division of EVCO Plastics, a worldwide manufacturer of injection-molded plastic products. EVCO management believes that the agricultural division could be transformed through enhanced marketing, distribution and/or business approaches.

NOTE: Entrants may not contact EVCO management or ownership for additional information. All information used or included in the submission must be obtained through noncompany interviews or other means that could be reasonably accessible to any team.

More about the UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition

The Big Bang! provides workshops, mentorship, financing and networking to advance the startup process. New businesses are developed and pitched by interdisciplinary teams that draw from their business and technical expertise. Teams attend workshops to develop and hone their business concept during the competition, which starts each year in October and concludes in May. 42 teams—representing 120 aspiring entrepreneurs—participated in the 2016 contest.

Click here for more information about the Big Bang! Business Competition.

In addition to the new challenge awards, the 2017 Big Bang! will award at least $40,000 in other prizes:

First Place: $10,000 cash

Second Place: $5,000 cash

People’s Choice Award: $2,500

Local Innovators Award: $10,000 in-kind services
Sponsored by Davis Roots

Biomedical Innovation Award: $4,000
Sponsored by UC Davis Office of Research, School of Veterinary MedicineSchool of Medicine and College of Engineering

Global Poverty Alleviation Award: $3,000
Sponsored by UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies

Innovation in Food & Agriculture Award: $3,000
Sponsored by the UC Davis World Food Center

CleanTech Award: $2,500
Sponsored by Gary Simon and CleanStart

Click here for full information about these prizes.