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Engineering Teams Get a Boost at Triton Innovation Challenge Competition

One Village Philippines team

The One Village Philippines team with Global TIES Director Mandy Bratton (third from right).

Three teams with ties to the Jacobs School were recognized at this year’s Triton Innovation Challenge at the University of California, San Diego. LifeCycled Materials, led by two Jacobs School alumni, won the competition and a $10,000 prize. Evolution Solutions, a startup cofounded by students at the Jacobs School and the Rady School of Management, came in third and received $2,500. Finally, One Village Philippines, a team that is part of the Jacobs School’s Global TIES program, won the competition’s social venture track and $2,500.

Now in its fifth year, the Triton Innovation Challenge is an annual business competition focused on fostering creativity and developing environmentally focused technologies generated by members of the UC San Diego community. This year’s event boasted a record crowd of more than 250 attendees. The challenge organizers accepted submissions in October which were reviewed by an expert panel. Ten teams were selected to pitch at the final event held on Nov. 29.

LifeCycled Materials focuses on helping disadvantaged communities turn waste paper and plastic into durable building materials. Led by engineering alumni Kimberly Nguyen and Brandon Reynante, the team is designing low-cost manufacturing processes and equipment to do this. The team also plans to provide a service to sell the materials to interested customers. LifeCycled plans to launch a pilot program for waste pickers. The program would start with 50 pickers, but could expand to close to thousands in the long term.

Evolution Solutions is developing ANSA, a new plant growing technology that uses solar-powered energy as its primary energy source. The device extracts nutrients from compost through a series of filters where the nutrients are then used to feed a multi-layer, poly-culture hydroponic unit. By reducing the need for constant water input, synthetic fertilizers, and fossil fuel, ANSA will provide an economical, sustainable, and readily accessible way to grow healthy and organic food for populations with limited resources and a high demand for food. The technology was inspired by cyanobacteria, the most efficient, diverse and successful microorganism on the planet. The success of this microorganism, in large part, is due to a photosynthetic inner membrane, which ANSA seeks to mimic.

The One Village Philippines Global TIES team is working with the non-profit organization, Gawad Kalinga, to create opportunity for a rural village in the Philippines. Specifically, the team has designed an extremely affordable solar “tiki torch” that can be manufactured and sold by the villagers. Members of the team plan to travel to the Philippines this coming summer to help the villagers establish a business to manufacture and distribute the lamps.

The Triton Innovation Challenge finals kicked off with a welcome from Dean Robert Sullivan. Steve Poizner, the Rady School’s Entrepreneur in Residence, served as the emcee for the evening, and the event featured a panel of seven judges, ranging from professors to successful UC San Diego alumni. Seven teams pitched for the Tech Track finals, including five with Rady School affiliation.

Triton Innovation Challenge Finalists

  • ANSA (Rady School of Management and Jacobs School of Engineering)
  • Braykion (Rady School of Management)
  • Greyble (Rady School of Management)
  • LifeCycled Materials (Jacobs School of Engineering)
  • MobeWash (Rady School of Management)
  • Morsel (Rady School of Management)
  • Tiny Fish (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

Three teams were also selected to participate in the Social Innovation track finals, where they completed ‘quick pitches’: Competitive Online Videogames in Schools (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), One Village Philippines Solar-E Torch (Jacobs School of Engineering), and Squidtoons (Scripps Institution of Oceanography).


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