On October 22, 150+ people turned out for launch of the Big Bang business plan competition put on by the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  It looks like it will be another record-setting year for prize money and the number of applicants. Last year there was $112,000 in prizes and 105 teams participated.  If you want to form a team, use the Hub Spot to identify ideas or team members. Teams can be registered up through Feb. 21.  Anyone can join. Don’t forget that CleanStart offers a $3,000 prize for the best cleantech team in the Big Bang.  

The finals will be held May 20 next year.  Between now and then, the Big Bang! offers eleven terrific workshops on how to move from and idea to a business to a winning pitch.  Here’s the best news: Even if you are not entering as a team, these workshops are all available to anyone in the community—for free.  Even better—the workshops are all live-streamed and archived for on-demand access. So even if you just want to dip a toe in the entrepreneurship waters—you can!  This is an excellent resource for the whole innovation community developing here. Consider taking full advantage of it. There’s no reason not to. Click Here and Sign up now!

As part of the event, Joe DiNunzio, Executive Director of the Institute awarded the first-ever Big Bang Innovator award to John Bissell.   John and Ryan Smith founded Micromidas formally in 2008 after working on it originally in the Big Bang. It has been renamed Origin materials, employs over 70 worldwide and has raised over $100 million.  It takes biomass and makes it into feedstock for plastic bottles, eliminating the use of petroleum products. John himself has been a huge supporter of innovation and entrepreneurship in our community, always willing to lend a hand.  The award as a champion of entrepreneurship couldn’t have gone to anyone more deserving. John couldn’t be there to accept his award since his wife was having a baby, but Ryan filled-in admirably.

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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