Small Biz Start-Up:


2016 Business Plan Competition at

The Paul Merage School of Business

The 2016 Business Plan Competition Overview


The 2016 Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business is one of the nation’s premier business plan competitions offering all UC Irvine students, staff, and researchers the opportunity to form a team, create a business plan, and potentially fund their business idea all within six months. The competition begins with our Signature Kick-off event on Thursday, November 5, 2015. At the Competition Kick-off, participants learn more details about the competition prizes, rules, registration procedures, and meet some of the winners from previous years.

Students who wish to register for the 2016 competition may do so at Participants will form a team, submit their concept papers, attend competition related workshops and submit their final business pitch deck on April 22, 2016. The competition culminates in The Final Presentation and Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016, where prizes in excess of $100,000 in value will be awarded.

Between the kick-off and finals, we offer six workshops covering a broad area of business plan development skills led by expert practitioners from across Orange County. The Competition also provides individual team coaches to all teams that qualify for the semi-finals.






















2016 Business Plan Competition Rules

Competition Information:

Competition Format
Business Concept
Judging Guidelines
Award Divisions
Special Awards

Tech Surge Awards

Competition Registration
Competition Calendar



Thursday, November 5, 2015

2016 BPC Kick-Off

Merage School Auditorium

5:30-8:30 pm




View all competition events




1. Competition Format BACK TO TOP MENU
The Competition has Two Phases:
Phase One: Concept Paper Phase

The Concept Paper Phase begins with all teams self-registering on and joining the 2016 Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business Group by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, January 20, 2016. This is required.

For further instructions on how to register click HERE

After registering, participants are encouraged to attend the provided workshops to assist competitions with their concept papers. Teams then submit a three-page Concept Paper about their business opportunity by uploading their concept paper in .PDF form on Note that Concept papers are due by 11:59 pm, Thursday, February 18, 2016. Each Concept paper must provide a cover sheet (sample provided below) that gives the names of the team members, including their respective school affiliations, graduate/undergraduate status, and e-mail addresses. This cover page does not count against the 3-page limit. This initial three-page document is the equivalent to the Executive Summary of a business plan which will be utilized during the second phase of the competition to create a Pitch Deck.

After the concept papers are submitted, a panel of judges will select semi-finalists from each competition track for participation in Phase Two of the competition. These semi-finalists will be notified on Thursday, March 3, 2016 and coaches will be matched with each of the semi-finalist teams soon thereafter. Awards are given to recognize both the team with the best concept paper for the Campus Wide Division and the team with the best concept paper for the Undergraduate Division.


Phase Two: Business Plan Development Phase

The second phase of the competition is composed of semi-finalist teams for both the Campus Wide Division and the Undergraduate Division. Semi-finalist teams will work with their assigned coach to submit a PowerPoint (or similar) presentation, containing no more than 15 slides, for the competition. Pitch Decks are due by 11:59 pm, Friday, April 22, 2016. Just as in Phase One, teams must submit a .PDF version of their pitch deck, including cover page, through

Judges will review the submitted materials and, at The Final Presentation and Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016, panels of judges will evaluate each semi-finalist’s presentation at The Cove, home of UCI’s Applied Innovation. This will be an all-day event. Judges will make their decisions and the formal recognition of all award winners will be acknowledged that day.


Competition Tracks

To better foster creativity and fairness within the competition, teams will be asked to select the most appropriate track for their business. However, the Business Plan & Pitch Competition committee may re-classify a submission if deemed more appropriate for a different track. The 2016 Competition will be judged in four tracks:

Track 1 – IT and Web: Concepts focused on meeting diverse consumer and enterprise needs through web-based solutions, productivity tools, mobile devices, hardware and software, and apps.

Track 2
– Life Sciences: Ideas related to medical devices, instrumentation, biotechnology, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

Track 3
– Energy and Cleantech: Ideas for the next generation of energy-related products or services.

Track 4 – Products and Services: Ideas focused on meeting diverse, non-technical consumer and business needs.



All UC Irvine Graduate and Undergraduate students are invited to participate in the Business Plan Competition. Teams are required to have at least three (3) total members, two of whom must be registered UC Irvine Students*.

* A “registered student” is defined as a bona fide student registered at UC Irvine for at least two (2) quarters during the 15-16 academic year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

    May teams include any non-UC Irvine student members?

Yes, once the team is organized by at least two UC Irvine students, up to three (3) non-UCI students may participate as Auxiliary Members of the team. Auxiliary Members are required to be present with their team during The Competition Finals and Awards event, with no exception.

    What is an “Undergraduate Team”?

An undergraduate team is defined as a team in which all team members are current undergraduate students, including any Auxiliary Members. Undergraduate teams may compete for all Campus Wide Division Awards, as well as for all Undergraduate Division Awards.

    What if I want to change my team type?

Changes to your team’s composition are allowed up to the final Pitch Deck submission date on Friday, April 22, 2016. Your final team composition will be considered to be the individuals listed on your cover page submitted through Please keep in mind that should your team win a cash award, University policy requires that all team members split the award evenly.

    How can I attract more team members?

Please use the Facebook group, UCI Business Plan Competition 2016, discussion wall to advertise your interest in recruiting additional team members. Additionally, be sure to make use of the Competition Kick-off event!


3. Business Plan/Idea BACK TO TOP MENU
Teams must present an original idea for a company which may not have been in existence prior to January 2015. Teams must be in a “pre-incubator” form and must not have received financial backing by professional third-party accelerators, incubators, existing companies, or venture capitalists in an amount greater than $10,000.
Concept Paper and Pitch Deck Format Requirements:

Concept Papers must not be over three pages, excluding the cover page. Margins must not be smaller than ½ of an inch on any side; body text should be between 1 and 12 points inclusive; document text should be single-spaced.

Pitch Decks must not be over 15 slides, excluding the cover page.

Submit documents only as a single file in .PDF format.

4. Judging Guidelines BACK TO TOP MENU
Our judges are professionals who come from various business backgrounds and include experienced investors, entrepreneurs, and senior business practitioners who interact with early stage companies. Each judge is an expert in the process of starting a business. The judges consider specific criteria when evaluating concept papers and pitch decks, however, ultimately, winning teams are those in which the judges would most likely invest their own money. This decision is influenced heavily by several factors, including:

1.    Size and growth rate of the market addressed;
2.    Likelihood that the team can create a sustainable competitive advantage;
3.    Simplicity of the business model described; and
4.    Believability of the team’s vision and plan.

Specifically, judges will evaluate each semi-finalist team on the strength of their plan and overall presentation, often this wll include criteria such as:
Quality of Business Environment Assessment and Model Design
  • Executive Summary & Company Overview
  • Products or Services
  • Market Need
  • Market Potential for Product or Service
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Management
  • Financial Forecasts
Impact of Presentation
  • Communication of Evidence of a Market
  • Communication of Evidence of Ability to Execute
  • Commnication of Evidence of a Return on Investment

Judges' Assessment of Scalability/Investment Potential

5. Award Divisions BACK TO TOP MENU

More information coming soon!

6. Special Awards BACK TO TOP MENU

More information coming soon!

7. People Choice Poll BACK TO TOP MENU


2015-408      Spriroidolinones and Their Uses

2015-664-1   Plastic Antibodies for Neutralizing Venom         
2015-779      Immunotherapy for Cancer       
2007-533-3   Plastic Antibodies 
Medical Devices    
2014-615     Green-Field In-Plane Ultrasound Needle Guide       
2012-203     Implantable Device for Treating Diabetes        
2014-927     Implantable Wireless Oxygen Biosensor for Implanted Devices           
2012-130      Thermal Devices for Controlling Heat Tansfer          
2001-446      A Hydrogen Gas Sensor  
Life Sciences         
2015-519-1   Metal-Free Affinity Media/Agents For The Selective Capture Of Histiidine-Rich Peptide Sequences    
Social Media           
2015-142-1   Smart Nail Polish



8. Competition Registration BACK TO TOP MENU

Registering for the 2016 Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business is easily completed by:

  1. Go to to register.
  2. ONLY One team member need to create a team Company and fill out the resulting form.
  3. To join the 2016 Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business, click on the  "Log In/Registration" tab and click on "Create User Account".
  4. Fill out the necessary information and click "Submit".
  5. An activation e-mail will be sent to your inbox within a few minutes.  Make sure that you click on the link in the e-mail and log in as a new user to activate the account.
  6. Congratulations!!  You have now joined the 2016 Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business.
  7. You may now create your team homepage, upload pictures and documents, post your logo and e-mail friends and family about your new business opportunity


9. Competition Calendar BACK TO TOP MENU
Thursday, November 5, 2015
2016 BPC Kick-Off
Merage School Auditorium
5:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, December 3, 2015 
Zapp Workshop #1
The Cove @ UCI
5141 California Ave., #250
Irvine, CA 92697
9:00 am
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Team Networking Mixer
The Cove
6:00 pm
Thursday, December 17, 2015 
Zapp Workshop #2
The Cove
9:00 am

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

BPC Workshop: Assessing the Market
The Cove
6-8:30 pm
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
BPC Workshop: How to Develop a Winning Concept and Lead Your Team to Success
Merage School Executive Commons, MPAA 100
6-8:30 pm
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 
Registration Closes
11:59 pm
Friday, February 5, 2016
Concept Paper Advisory Meeting
The Cove
7:30-9 am
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 
BPC Workshop: How to Write a Business Plan
Merage School Executive Commons, MPAA 100

6-8:30 pm


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

BPC Workshop: Intellectual Property and Protection
Merage School Executive Commons, MPAA 100
6-8:30 pm 
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Concept Papers Due
11:50 pm
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Semi-Finalists Announced
5:00 pm
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
BPC Workshop: Presentation Skills for Pitching Investors
The Cove

6-8:30 pm

Friday, April 22, 2016
Pitch Decks Due
11:59 pm

Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 BPC Judges Orientation Breakfast
The Cove
7:30 am-9 am
Friday, May 6, 2016
2016 BPC Final Presentations and Awards Ceremony
The Cove
2-6 pm

10. Resources for Participants BACK TO TOP MENU

There will be numerous resources available to the teams throughout the competition. They are as follows:

  • Reading materials on this site
  • Links to various websites and online publications
  • Guidelines on what is expected in the concept paper and final business plans
  • Workshops on the key elements of a business plan will be offered from January through April
  • Team coaches for teams selected for Phase II

Resource Center