Irvine, Calif., May 11, 2016 — Twelve student-led entrepreneur teams at the University of California, Irvine garnered top prizes in the 2016 Paul Merage School of Business Business Plan Competition on Friday, May 6. The event was held at The Cove, home to UCI Applied Innovation and the epicenter of a growing innovation district in Orange County.

Community business leaders serving as judges awarded winners in numerous categories after a full day of pitches by more than 40 finalists, out of an initial pool of over 80 applicants. The teams presented both in person and through an online video competition sponsored by, a Cove startup founded by UCI alumnus Neel Grover ’92. The top 12 teams shared more than $100,000 in cash and prizes – including such things as legal services and access to collaborative workspace – that will help them continue to advance their business ideas.

An annual event started by the Beall Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Merage School, the Business Plan Competition has fostered numerous startups by promising UCI entrepreneurs.

“This year the Beall Center had the opportunity to partner with UCI Applied Innovation, and this opened up many wonderful prospects for our students as well as our business community,” said Imran Currim, Chancellor’s Professor of marketing and director of the Beall Center. “The competition 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 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 was new to the Business Plan Competition this year, contributing 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 sciences/clean technology, consumer products and information technology/Web. Special prizes were also bestowed for working with UCI intellectual property, working with medical school intellectual property and ideas related to poverty alleviation. Additionally, awards were given for the overall most outstanding undergraduate business plan and the best business plan in the Pivot Program bracket, which consisted of all those that did not advance to the finals. UCI Blackstone LaunchPad provided valuable one-one-one mentorship to teams in the Pivot Program.

The winners were:

Awards: first place ($10,000) in the life sciences/clean tech track and first place ($10,000) for those working with UCI intellectual property
Concept: a device that screens embryos before implantation to predict their chances of resulting in a successful birth
Team members: Tiffany Chien, Yingkai Su, Thai Nguyen, Shin Fukazawa and Daniel Tran

Award: second place ($5,000) for those working with UCI intellectual property
Concept: a novel therapeutic robot to supplement home, classroom and clinic therapy for autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Team members: Pooja Raja, Rickesh Patel, Xuemei Zhang, Ahmed Khorshid and Ting-Shuo Chou

 Negocios & Etc.
Award: Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation Award ($10,000)
Concept: an online platform to connect business owners or decision-making employees with high-quality but affordable consultancies, as well as through a unique social network
Team members: Caroline Cypriano, Pravin Surana and Fabio Sato

Sher Biomedical
Award: School of Medicine Award ($10,000)
Concept: an implantable and replenishable system for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes
Team members: Rachel Gurlin, Avid Najdahmadi, Bhupinder Shergill, Jonathan Lakey and Elliot Botnivick

Bottle Rocket
Award: most outstanding undergrad plan ($1,000)
Concept: a mobile app and service providing consumers with an easy way to earn money by recycling at home
Team members: Arthur Avetisov, Brian Leung, Eric Tam, Lisa Tran and Tina Mai

Maslow Construction Robots
Award: best Pivot Program plan ($1,500)
Concept: bringing the cost of emergency housing down to revolutionary minimums by supplying automated, three-dimensional printing equipment to developers
Team member: Andy Truong

Award: second place ($5,000) in the IT/Web track
Concept: an app that lets musicians easily connect, jam together and form groups remotely
Team members: Emilio Miranda, Miguel Cabral and Jakob Jansson

Dental Insights
Award: first place ($10,000) in the IT/Web track
Concept: software to increase the accuracy and authenticity of submitted dental claims, reduce the workload of dental insurance companies, improve the efficiency of auditing teams, and reduce fraud and abuse
Team members: Michael Bennett, Andy Fields and Vang Kou Khang

Award: second place ($5,000) in the life sciences/clean tech track
Concept: a novel diagnostic device that can identify extremely low concentrations of pathogens at early stages of an infection with great accuracy and speed
Team members: Sean Freeman, Nikki Koe, Louai Labanieh, Binh Le and Sadaf Mirnia

Award: second place ($5,000) in the consumer products track
Concept: a mask to eliminate the problems associated with obstructive sleep apnea in a more effective manner than traditional treatments
Team members: Jeffrey Chum, Josh Drum, Michael Shenk, Matthew Vasquez and Sam Pasin

Award: first place ($10,000) in the consumer products track
Concept: a secure wristband that uses LoRa technology to help parents keep track of their children
Team members: Rehema Feleke, Simon Loo and Cliff Wang

“This year’s competition was able to draw from a much wider range of campus entrepreneurial activities,” said Richard Sudek, executive director of UCI Applied Innovation. “I’m extremely pleased with the quality of plans presented and the engagement of the business community.”

The 2016 Business Plan Competition was hosted by UCI Applied Innovation and The Paul Merage School of Business and was sponsored by the Beall Family Foundation, UCI’s Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, Microsemi, the Stradling law firm, the Fish & Tsang law firm, the Nguyen & Tarbet law firm, Iris Technology, the California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology and the UCI School of Medicine.

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About the University of California, Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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