12 UC Entrepreneurs Win Opportunity to Pitch at Venture Summit

The finalists, selected by a panel of prominent investors, have won the opportunity to pitch their startups to more than 800 business leaders and venture capitalists at the fourth annual 2019 Global Corporate Venturing & Innovation (GCVI) Summit, held in Monterey, Calif., from Jan. 29 to 31, 2019.

Following the GCVI pitch sessions, a judging panel of distinguished corporate VCs will also select one winner from each of the two competition tracks to receive a $15,000 cash prize. The prizes and covered travel expenses are made possible thanks to contest sponsors ClearAccess IP, P&G Ventures, and LAM Research.

The following UC entrepreneurs were chosen for their unique innovation and creativity from a pool of contestants representing all 10 UC campuses:

Early-stage Track

  • Shawn Headley (UC Davis) is the Co-founder of Aluminum Oxide, a startup that is commercializing a novel, low cost, and environmentally friendly process for refining aluminum into ultra-high pure aluminum oxide, also known as Alumina. Alumina is of growing interest to the semiconductor industry and lithium-ion battery manufacturers.
  • Viola Sutanto (UC Berkeley) is the COO and Co-founder of LimeLoop that produces returnable shippers for ecommerce businesses made from recycled billboard vinyl. Their lightweight, durable shippers aim to tackle the growing cardboard demand and resulting environmental impact due to the growth of ecommerce.
  • Charlie Yeh (UCSF & UC Berkeley) is the CEO and Founder of mFluiDx which has developed microfluidic diagnostic technologies capable of on-site, multi-target DNA detection of viral and bacterial infections. The mFluiDx team includes UC Berkeley alumni, a postdoc, a visiting scholar, and an alumnus of UC Hastings College of Law.
  • Nicholas Halverson (UC San Diego) is the CEO and Co-founder of Occuspace, a startup that has developed occupancy data collection technology that can be used to optimize space usage and cut energy consumption by 10-20%.
  • Dr. Byron Shen (UC Berkeley & UC Irvine) is the CEO of Velox Biosystems, a clinical diagnostic startup out of UC Irvine that is point-of-care detection technology for rapid, cost effective, and highly accurate tests to combat the rise in antimicrobial resistance.
  • Dr. Lorenzo Rossini (UC San Diego) is the CTO and Co-founder of Veocor Diagnostics which is pioneering cloud-based artificial intelligence technologies to diagnose patients at risk of stroke who could benefit from anticoagulation, reducing costs and improving quality of care.

Later-stage Track

  • Megan Mokri (UC Berkeley) is the CEO and Founder of Byte, an on-demand platform for healthy, fresh food. Byte uses unattended retail space within any commercial space, such as workplaces, hospitals, or apartment buildings, to provide fresh food. Byte has over 500 storefronts across hundreds of corporate customers.
  • Raymond Zhou (UC Davis & UC Irvine) is the Co-founder of GlyTR Therapeutics, a disruptive immunotherapy platform technology that accelerates the application of GlyTR immunotherapy to treat cancer. Michael Demetriou is the UC founder and an alumnus of UC Irvine.
  • Neel Grover (UC Irvine) is the CEO and Founder of Indi, a SaaS video platform that helps brands engage their customers directly in their digital properties by creating commissionable, shoppable video reviews and engagement challenges, driving brand awareness and online sales from social media.
  • Olin Hyde (UC San Diego) is the CEO, Co-founder and Board Member of LeadCrunch.ai, a SaaS company that accelerates B2B sales and marketing by finding and engaging ideal customer prospects to generate demand. Their proprietary AI technology reduces customer acquisition costs by up to 67%.
  • Dr. Jason McKeown (UC San Diego) is the CEO of Neurovalens, a global health-tech startup that creates non-invasive neurostimulation products. Their goal is to improve the lives of those who suffer from neurological issues using their technology and products.
  • Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni (UC Berkeley) is the CEO and Co-founder of suitX, a VC, industry and government funded startup that has developed advanced, accessible exoskeletons to industrial and medical markets. The UC spinout has collaborative roots and was founded by UC Berkeley faculty and alumni and has employed 30 people.

Dr. Christine Gulbranson, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for the University of California, commented on this year’s competition: “The UC community is full of entrepreneurs and startups creating groundbreaking products and revolutionary companies, so we created two tracks for this year’s competition,” said Gulbranson. “I’m so impressed with the innovations in our ecosystem: there isn’t an industry we aren’t tackling. These finalists embody the bold range of innovative, market-driven, and impactful initiatives our entrepreneurs are undertaking.”

Gulbranson congratulated the 12 finalists alongside chancellors from the finalists' campuses in a short video message:

Six corporate VCs who selected the 12 finalists and who are providing one-on-one coaching to the finalists in preparation for their final pitch at GCVI are:

  • Linda Elkins, Chief Technical Officer at W.L. Gore Innovation Center
  • Jay Eum, Co-founder & Managing Director at TransLink Capital
  • Albert Kim, Head of Ericsson Ventures
  • Pramila Mullan, Principal Director at Accenture Ventures
  • Hash Pakbaz, Senior Director, Emerging Businesses; Principal at Lam Research Capital at Lam Research
  • Bonny Simi, President at JetBlue Technology Ventures

The 3rd Annual “I am a UC Entrepreneur” competition for UC entrepreneurs was launched in November, 2018, to highlight the innovation and creativity of the UC community. UC invited faculty/staff, student, and alumni entrepreneurs to submit pitch videos and presentations explaining their vision and business strategy. Associated campaigns were launched in 2016 and 2017 to highlight the impressive work of the university’s student, faculty and alumni entrepreneurs.

Learn more about the contest, the #IamaUCEntrepreneur campaign, and innovation driven by the UC system.