Image for the AI Innovation Challenge
AI Innovation Challenge teams will create AI-based solutions in the areas of storytelling and entertainment, health impact, and student experiences. More than $50,000 in prizes will be distributed. ANTrepreneur Center

Calling all Anteaters interested in building a better tomorrow.

UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center has officially launched the AI Innovation Challenge, and its kickoff will be held on Oct. 16. The competition – which takes place throughout the fall quarter and will distribute over $50,000 in prizes – is open to undergraduates, graduate students and faculty of any background and skill level. The ANTrepreneur Center is also looking for mentors and judges.

Teams formed at the kickoff will create AI-based solutions in one of three tracks: storytelling and entertainment, sponsored by UCI Beall Applied Innovation; health impact, sponsored by UCI Health and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County Research Institute; and student experiences, sponsored by UCI Student Affairs, UCI Student Life & Leadership, Associated Students of UCI, UCI’s Office of Information Technology and UCI’s Office of Data and Information Technology. The event is also made possible by Blackstone LaunchPad, Siemens, Amazon Web Services, the UCI Division of Undergraduate Education, UCI’s Graduate Division and The Hub.

“The world is changing as we know it, and a true value proposition of higher education is making sure to prepare students for the future,” says Ryan Foland, director of the ANTrepreneur Center. “If the future is changing as we know it, it’s important that we are putting [students] in the front seat to help them drive that change.”

He hopes that the AI Innovation Challenge will further foster the entrepreneurial spirit in Anteaters by providing an opportunity to create interdisciplinary teams, brainstorm ideas in a safe environment and propose innovative solutions. The best part, Foland says, is that participants can be from any major and do not need to have technical or coding skills; the competition has technology sponsors and AI tools that level the playing field.

“It amazes me how many innovative and problem-solving students don’t identify as entrepreneurs,” Foland says. “From experience, I can tell you that going through this type of challenge will help them realize that they are not only entrepreneurs but also proud ANTrepreneurs.”

To members of the UCI community interested in joining – and to the 300 and counting registered kickoff attendees – he offers the following advice: Simply show up. From there, he encourages them to leverage the abundant resources they already have and to enjoy the process of becoming an ANTrepreneur.

“There are many opportunities in life, and they all start with starting. College is all about gaining experience,” Foland says, noting that the challenge is not necessarily about winning. “It’s about participating in an exciting, quarter-long effort to try to solve real-world problems with technology and ingenuity, all while making new friends, building marketable skills and flexing their leadership muscles.”