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Business plan competition at UC Berkeley draws 66 plans, keen interest in biotech
27 February 2002

By Ute Frey and Sarah Benson, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - Smart metal technology, biochips, cancer treatments, innovative security solutions and new technology for the home and hospitals are among the concepts proposed by entrepreneurs from around the world entering the fourth annual University of California, Berkeley, Business Plan Competition.

In sharp contrast to previous years, more than 30 percent of this year's plans submitted by 66 teams are focused on biotechnology.

The competition organized by MBA students at the Haas School of Business fosters the creation of real businesses. Previous finalists have raised more than $118 million in venture funding. First-year winner, Timbre Technologies, sold in February 2001 to Tokyo Semiconductor for $138 million.

Teams are competing for $90,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

The competition was formed to encourage collaboration between departments on the UC Berkeley campus. In order to participate, each team must have at least one UC Berkeley student or alumnus/a as an active member. The vast majority of teams are cross-disciplinary, matching UC Berkeley engineers and computer scientists with MBA students and alumni. For the first time, to attract more entrants from the life sciences, the 2002 competition also invited students and alumni from the health sciences at UC San Francisco.

This year's teams include students not only from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco but also from Stanford University, MIT, UCLA, California Polytechnical Institute, and UC San Francisco. Other participants are from India, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, China and Vietnam.

More than 30 percent of this year's teams include UC Berkeley alumni. "We see this trend as a positive sign that entrepreneurs with ties to Berkeley are increasingly looking to the competition as a great launching pad for new companies," said Eric Petitt, a Haas MBA student on the 2002 competition executive committee.

The competition provides teams with mentors who will help them hone their plans and polish their presentation skills as the competition progresses. Mentors represent leading practitioners from fast-growing companies around the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley and are matched to teams based on their industry and functional expertise. Many are Haas MBA alumni.

Sponsors include Versant, Allegis, Onset Ventures and Sequoia Capital, as well as key sponsors, Sevin Rosen Funds and ComVentures.

In the first round of the competition, all 66 executive summaries submitted were reviewed independently by at least three venture capitalists. Some 32 teams selected for the semi-final round will pitch their ideas privately to a panel of venture capitalists on April 12. Judges will include principals of ComVentures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, TA Associates, Morgan Stanley Venture Partners, Versant Ventures, Summit Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds, Mohr Davidow Funds, and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

Eight teams will advance to the final round of judging, to be held on the UC Berkeley campus on April 22 and 23.

An award of $50,000 will be presented to the first place winner, $25,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third. A $5,000 "People's Choice Award" will go to the audience's favorite at the competition's public event that will be held on April 24 in the Arthur Andersen Auditorium at the Haas School. It will feature all finalists' brief presentations of their business plans and the final awards ceremony.

Check for more information.