Newsroom

UCI New Venture Competition “Ant Tank” Competition

By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Irvine, CA - (May 19, 2020) -

UCI's 15th annual New Venture Competition (NVC), sporting $100,000 in prizes, will conclude virtually on May 21 from 3 to 6 p.m. Following a record 114 concept submissions, 40 semi-finalists competed on May 8 for 1st and 2nd place in each of five tracks. Those 10 survivors will now compete for the Grand Prize in a three-minute fast- pitch, facing a panel of distinguished judges from Orange County’s startup ecosystem.

“We are excited to provide this opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs to experience all facets of the startup process,” said Ken Neeld, Board Chair of the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The NVC gives these innovators exposure to what they need to develop an idea into a viable business that is positioned to attract investment for the next phase of development.” Despite the COVID-19 setback, BCIE is committed to delivering educational excellence.

Many startup success stories begin with the NVC. For example, Swappit, a secure, authenticated mobile trading platform for pre-owned luxury streetwear, won in last year’s Consumer Services track and was recently admitted into EvoNexus’ selective incubator. Manny Tuli, Founder and CEO, said, “NVC and its mentor network creates a breeding ground for innovation, allowing ideas to flourish and take hold.”

For Sean White, Founder of Laser Associated Sciences and former Life Sciences winner, "UCI's NVC was a critical step in forging a business plan that took our company from concept to acquisition. It was the catalyst for generating and refining an impactful pitch, essential for seeking funding and strategic partnerships. To this day, we still rely upon our NVC mentor for feedback and guidance.”

The New Venture Competition is supported by generous contributions from sponsors and mentors within Orange County’s startup ecosystem: Boeing, Experian, Ingram Micro, Stradling Law, Soka University, Genea, Cove Fund, Baker Hostetler, Gabriel Holdings, UCI Blum Center, EcoKMC Global Accelerator, Dr. Emanuel Shaoulian, Johnson Chuang, Matt Bailey, Fiza and Mansoor Shah, and Ken and Carla Neeld.

About the NVC: Due to high demand for entrepreneurial programs, the educational curriculum evolved from the Merage “Business Plan Competition”, and now includes all UCI students, faculty, staff and alumni. The Beall Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, housed at UCI’s Merage School of Business, is funded by the Beall Family Foundation and encompasses both the competition and recently launched the UCI Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. 

About The Paul Merage School of Business

The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine offers four dynamic MBA programs – plus PhD, specialty masters and undergraduate business degrees – that prepare business leaders for our digitally driven world. Through our programs, students acquire the exceptional ability to grow their organizations through strategic innovation, analytical decision-making, digital information technology and collaborative execution. While the Merage School is relatively young, it has quickly grown to rank consistently among the top five percent of all business programs worldwide through exceptional student recruitment, world-class faculty, a strong alumni network and close relationships with both individual business executives and global corporations. Additional information is available at merage.uci.edu.

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