20th Annual Big Bang! Launches
Celebrating two decades of entrepreneurship

The 20th annual UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition launched on October 22, 2019, igniting the fuse on a series of 11 free workshops to help aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs grow their business ideas—and kicking off one of the largest business competitions in Northern California.

More than 250 people attended the launch, which included a fireside chat between Ryan Smith, co-founder and CTO of Origin Materials and a Big Bang! competition alumnus, and Professor Andrew Hargadon, founder and faculty director of the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The event also honored the three UC Davis MBA students who started the Big Bang! in 1999 as a student-run competition to help mentor, connect and fund promising startups.

Still dedicated to this root mission, today the competition awards more than $100,000 in prize money each year, recognizing innovations in energy, food and ag, health and technology. The 2018/19 competition broke previous records with 105 teams representing more than 300 participants. 

“The Big Bang! is a journey, not a destination.”

—Karen Harding-Davis | Big Bang! Business Competition Coordinator

Both the workshops and the competition are open to everyone, offering a powerful opportunity for students, faculty, alumni, university staff and the public to collaborate, develop and test business ideas. All workshops are livestreamed and available on demand.

The Big Bang! will culminate with pitches from finalist teams at an awards ceremony in May. They’ll look to join the growing ranks of successful Big Bang! alumni that have become thriving companies.

You are there! Watch a video of the Big Bang! launch

Big Bang! Launch video


It’s all about the network! Big Bang! Coordinator Karen Harding-Davis explains the many benefits of the competition and workshops.

BioMilitus took home five prizes totaling $25,000 in the 2018/19 Big Bang! They shared their experience with aspiring entrepreneurs at the 2019/20 competition launch.

“Entrepreneurship means you can think about problems in different ways.”

—Dean Rao Unnava | Graduate School of Management

Students and others started networking, connecting, sharing ideas and forming teams.

“Entrepreneurship’s a roller coaster. You’re constantly swinging between abject terror and blissful euphoria—and you need to learn how to integrate through it. And you also need to remember to take the trash out …..”

—Ryan Smith | Co-Counder and CTO,  Origin Materials

UC Davis Graduate School of Management alumni who made a difference: KC Kanaan, Mike Flemming and Scott Lutgen, Big Bang! founders and #AggieInnovators.

Past winners Professor Tony Simon, co-founder and CEO of Cognivive and associate director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, and Graduate School of Management MBA candidate Samantha Contreras, strategic marketing manager of PairAnything, share how participating  in the Big Bang! helped move their ventures forward. 

“For many who have participated in the Big Bang!, it has been one of the highlights of their time at UC Davis.”

—Professor Andrew Hargadon

2020 visionaries

2020 visionaries! Celebrating eight of our hundreds of Big Bang! winners over two decades.