Berkeley Lab hosts an annual pitch competition for scientist-entrepreneurs who participate in the Lab I-Corps Lite program, providing them with the opportunity to practice pitching their ideas. The first place winner advances to a DOE-wide pitch competition to compete for cash prizes supporting market research.
LBNL Pitch Competition 2022: Biosciences Inventor Deepika Awasthi Wins 2022 Berkeley Lab Pitch Competition
On Oct. 27, Berkeley Lab inventors eloquently pitched their inventions in a “pitch” competition as part of an entrepreneurship training program co-hosted by the Intellectual Property Office and Haas Business School. The competition, funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), was designed to provide scientist-entrepreneurs at the Lab with experience in pitching to key stakeholders such as potential investors and partners.
The judging panel included eight judges from a variety of backgrounds, including entrepreneurs and representatives from the venture capital community. The co-organizers were IPO’s Jeremy Greeter and Lucian Sweitzer.
The contestants gave ten-minute presentations on their elevator pitch, their market position, the customer and competitive landscape, and financial considerations, followed by a five minute Q&A with the judging panel.
The first place winner was Biosciences Area (BSA)’s Deepika Aswathi, who pitched her idea for “Z6 Technologies: Upcycling Methane to Green Biochemicals.” Tied for second place were Energy Technologies Area (ETA)’s Farshid Roumi, who presented “Fire Free Battery Screening Technology” and Earth and Environmental Sciences Area (EESA)’s Chun Chang, who presented “Hunting the Greener and Cheaper Energy You Need.” In third place was a two-person team from the Energy Technologies Area (ETA), Kenneth Higa and Daniel Collins-Wildman, who presented “Better Batteries for Buildings.”
The winners will receive funding to support time spent for market and customer research. Deepika will compete against winners of other DOE national labs at the national DOE pitch competition that will be held in Palo Alto on Nov. 16.
LBNL Pitch Competition 2021
On September 9, 2021, a handful of Berkeley Lab scientists participated in an annual pitch competition hosted by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), making their business cases for their inventions in front of a panel of judges.
The winners of the pitch competition are:
- First Place: Lukas Hackl (ETA) for “Aepnus Technology, an Electrochemical Platform Technology for the Refinement of Battery Minerals”
- Second Place: Bishoy Kamel (JGI) for “Rapid Development of COVID Precise Diagnostics”
- Third Place (tied):
- Nick Buraglio (ESnet) for “Hecate: Directing happiness to internet service provider customer” (artificial intelligence/machine learning-driven traffic engineering for high profile networks
- Peter Grant (ETA) for “SmartRecirc—Near Zero Waste Hot Water Distribution”
LBNL Pitch Competition 2020
The LBNL Pitch Competition 2020 was held on October 8 from 1:30-3:30 pm. The winners received cash prizes to be applied towards customer discovery:
- First Place: Andrew Haddad (Energy Technologies Area)
- Second Place: Dilip Vasudevan (Computing Sciences Area)
- Third Place: Reshma Singh (Energy Technologies Area)
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LBNL Pitch Competition 2019
Eight IPO I-Corps Lite graduates pitched their technology commercialization plans to a panel of industry judges at LBNL’s 2019 Pitch Competition. August 1.
The most compelling business cases were awarded funds to continue customer discovery efforts.
- 1st place: Erika Suzuki — radioactivity mapping
- 2nd place: Andrew Voyles — radionuclide production for nuclear medicine
- 3rd place: Arun Persaud — soil health system
Other entrepreneurial researcher participants included
- Pete Christensen – recyclable polymer for circular plastics economy
- Nicholas DeForest – investing energy resources for buildings or microgrids
- Ernst Oberortner – DNA, RNA, and protein sequence design
- Maren Wehrs and Yuzhong Liu – natural dyes for safer, sustainable textiles
- Ning Sun – renewable ionic liquids
The judging panel questioned each participant to identify top features and next steps for business planning. The panel included
- Thomas Schenkel, LBNL physicist/senior administrator and 2017 pitch competition winner
- Kevin Rodondi, I-Corps instructor and UCSF pharmacy professor
- Rhonda Shrader, Haas School of Business executive director of entrepreneurship
- Virginia Rath, Quotient Design Research consultant and Haas faculty member
- Mike Biddle, Evok Innovations managing director
Interested in a future pitch event and entrepreneurial training? Contact Gregg Scharfstein, GAScharfstein@lbl.gov at 510.486.7586.