Solidifying UC San Diego’s role as a research powerhouse with an entrepreneurial culture and collaborative environment, the Triton Greenovation Network (TGN) Challenge concluded its inaugural competition after announcing that students from the Rady School placed first and third in its competition to find the most commercially viable projects with a positive environmental impact.
A partnership between the university’s Rady School of Management, von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism & Technology at the Jacobs School of Engineering and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, supported by the Scripps Foundation, the TGN Challenge sought to accelerate the commercialization of novel, environmentally focused technologies while immersing students in a world of discovery, innovation and impact. “The goal was to provide student participants with the skills to transform promising technologies into innovative products that will help create jobs, boost American competitiveness and strengthen our economy,” said program cofounder Lada Rasochova. Adhering to the university’s mission of cross-functional collaboration – an important skill in today’s technology-driven economy – applicants were encouraged to form multidisciplinary teams and collaborate with students from the various partnering schools and organizations on campus.
Two of the six semifinal projects were proposed by student teams from the Rady School:
Aequoreus Pharma Innovation (First Prize): Occupying a niche between academia and Big Pharma, Aequoreus proposes to in-license early-stage compounds with promising biological activities from academic laboratories and carry out value-adding drug optimization to yield IND-ready drug candidates with new mechanisms of action, which will then be made available for out-licensing. Aequoreus will focus initially on the growing oncological market, utilizing the ocean as a source of potential drug candidates. The company has solicited feedback from several Big Pharma companies, is seeking funding to support its discovery operations and expects to sell/license its first compound within two years.
- Bulbscycle.com (Third Prize): Exploiting the need for an affordable and green way to recycle and dispose of spent light bulb waste, consumers can log on to the website to purchase a mail-in prepaid disposal package. Bulbscycle.com will responsibly dispose of the hazardous materials contained in the returned bulbs. The company is currently in the prototype and data-gathering phase. The domain name has been purchased, and the team of Rady School students is in discussion with the manufacturer of the technology to safely dispose of the toxic materials.
The remaining semifinal proposals included printed biofuel cells (second prize), a low-cost thermal heat collector/water heater using thermo-siphoning, an electromechanical converting material that turns rain power into electrical energy and a two-way wave power generator.
Rasochova was pleased that the projects were in various stages of development. “We want to identify entrepreneurial students early and support them while in school,” she said. “I was encouraged by the innovative thinking and energy. These students will be the next generation of leaders and managers of companies and founders of businesses – they will drive the future growth and prosperity of our economy.”
The top-three applicants were awarded stipends and will receive mentoring support from von Liebig technology and business advisors and Rady MBA Innovation Fellows to develop commercialization plans for their technologies. Additionally, awardees working on renewable energy projects are automatically be qualified to compete in the San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Challenge.