Student Teams Compete for Funding in Entrepreneurial Innovation Contest

The Office of Innovation and Commercialization, in collaboration with The Basement, announced the new undergraduate Proof of Concept Competition. OIC will award UCSD student teams up to $5,000 each in entrepreneurial funding for materials and creating prototypes.

Last Monday, Head of the OIC Paul Roben released a statement in a campus-wide email about how the  organizers expect that the competition will promote entrepreneurial experience.

“The competition challenges students to be creative and [to] engage in entrepreneurship to enhance their readiness for today’s global economy,” Roben said.

He further explained that the PoC competition will have a multifacted impact on exposing resources at UCSD as well as helping students discover their entrepreneurial interests.

“[PoC] will serve to raise the profile of The Basement, which is a fabulous resource that we hope to develop further over the coming years,” Roben told the UCSD Guardian. “And this also helps to raise awareness across campus among the student body that innovation and entrepreneurship is an opportunity and something you can do with your career. We will also be using this as a platform to reach students to see if they can really ignite the spark of entrepreneurship across campus and mobilize [other] students to become active.”

The competition is divided into two phases. First, current UCSD undergraduate students with good academic standing form teams of two to four with an idea for a startup business or product. In addition to the online application, teams must submit a proposal describing the project or product and a plan for using the PoC funds by Dec. 23. Judges will evaluate proposals based on the level of innovation, commercial potential, competitive advantage and use of PoC funds.

The judges will qualify a maximum of 10 teams as phase-one winners on Jan. 31 and award $2,000 in funds per group. These teams will move on to phase two, in which they will spend February and March completing another application and creating a presentation. Four winning teams will receive another $3,000 each and will have the opportunity to present their developments at The Basement’s Demo Day on April 28. The financial awards will be provided by OIC, which is funding the competition. 

UCSD alumni launched The Basement in February of 2015 with a “student-centric mission to stimulate, encourage and serve the entrepreneurial spirit of UC San Diego students,” according its website. The Basement includes over 3,000 square feet of co-working space, has held over 60 events and raised over $80,000 in competitions and from Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

Roben told the Guardian that the awarded funds will be monitored, and all teams are expected to report their advancements even after the competition is over.

“The funds need to be applied to the development of [the team’s] ideas,” he said. “We will be asking for receipts from expenditures. [The teams] will be expected to come back to us at the end of the academic year, and tell us about their progress.”

However, Roben added that while not every group will receive a monetary award, all teams are encouraged to continue the development of their projects. 

“This is not just going to help the students who win funding,” Roben told the Guardian. “We will stay in contact with all of the applicants.”

According to Roben, if the PoC Competition succeeds, OIC and The Basement will consider making the event annual.