Benjamin Wang, MD, founder/chief medical officer, Nevap Inc., took first prize in last year’s competition. Wang has since raised more than $350,000 for his medical device startup.
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Big Bang! Business Competition: Finalists Primed to Start Something Big
Annual Presentations and Awards Ceremony, May 21

The five finalist teams in the 2015 UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition will pitch their ventures this Thursday, May 21, at an awards ceremony at the UC Davis Conference Center.

More than 50 teams representing over 150 aspiring entrepreneurs participated in the 15th annual competition. The contest provides workshops, mentorship, financing and networking to accelerate commercialization and advance the startup process, and is open to students, faculty, researchers and staff.

Nearly $40,000 in prize money is at stake. The first prize award is $10,000; the second place team will receive $5,000. Attendees at Thursday’s event will select the $2,500 People’s Choice Award winner. 

Another $21,700 in prizes will be awarded to top concepts for promoting biomedical innovation, cleanTech, innovation in food and agriculture, mobile apps for societal impact, poverty alleviation, and innovations that benefit low-income seniors. 

“Amazing, powerful and potentially very profitable: this is how I’d describe this year’s finalists,” said Cleveland Justis, executive director of the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which organizes and hosts the competition. The Big Bang! has produced many teams that have become successful startups since the contest began in 2000.

“Given the university’s strengths in food, engineering and life sciences, we’re seeing some very promising technologies come out of the competition. This year was especially strong in food innovation. We can’t wait to see where these companies lead.”

The five teams presenting at the ceremony are:
  • Aventeal produces a product that can be attached to biotechnology-based therapeutics and deliver them to different areas of the body, including the brain.
    Team Lead: Benjamin Pyles, UC Davis MBA 04, Genome Center staff
  • branBYTES makes a meal wholegrain. branBYTES is made from bran and germ of the grain, while many meals are made from white starch of the grain. Together the meal and branBYTES provide complete wholegrain nutrition. branBYTES is also a great snack. Watch video >
    Team Lead: Ashwin Thirunahari, UC Davis MBA 04
  • is a web-based service and mobile app that addresses the underlying causes of household food waste: forgetting already purchased foods, and not knowing how to cook them.
    Team Lead: Brianna McGuire, MS candidate, Horticulture and Agronomy, UC Davis
  • Scrumpt is the first lunch kit subscription service for kids, providing parents with portioned ingredients and instructions to make fun, healthy meals for their children.
    Team Members: Bri James, CEO, and Schery Mitchell, MD, assistant clinical professor, pediatrics, UC Davis School of Medicine
  • Sensozyme  has developed a real-time glucose biosensor to measure glucose concentrations across a wide range at one-third the cost of the current industry standard to service a diverse market from bench-top to production. 
    Team Lead: Akshata Mudinoor, doctoral candidate, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, UC Davis
Keynote speakers are:
  • Justin Bakule, executive director of the Shared Value Initiative
  • Lisa Maulhardt (UCD MA 92/English/fiction writing), executive vice president, SY/Partners
  • Benjamin Wang, MD, (UCD BS 05/biochemistry and molecular biology), founder/chief medical officer, Nevap Inc., which took first prize in last year’s competition. Wang has since raised more than $350,000 for his medical device startup.

A reception begins at 5 p.m., with presentations and the awards ceremony from 6 to 8 p.m. at the UC Davis Conference Center. Admission is free, but reservations are requested. RSVP here >

Competition sponsors include Andrew Barkett Business Competition Endowed Fund, Mike and Renée Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Endowment, Gary Simon Clean Tech Prize Endowment, CITRIS at UC Davis, DLA Piper, E-Filliate, Andrew Barkett MBA 09, Lamplighter Financial, AARP Foundation, Akers Capital, Five Star Bank, Gary Simon, UC Davis Blum Center, UC Davis World Food Center, Bay Area Council, CVF Capital Partners, Getexp / Davis Innovators, PIPRA and Sierra Energy.

More about the Big Bang! >