2015 Big Ideas People’s Choice Video Contest Commences

BPCVC_logoPublic voting has begun for the 2015 Big Ideas People’s Choice Video Contest. Twenty-five innovative, student-led teams are now vying for $2,500 to support their social impact projects. The videos represent the broad scope and diversity of the projects in this year’s Big Ideas contest, covering issues such as clean water, mobile education, food security, and renewable energy.

Since 2005, the Big Ideas@Berkeley contest has supported student social innovation. The annual competition now spans 18 universities across the U.S., Uganda, and Australia. In November 2014, more than 200 student teams, representing over 700 students submitted ideas. Since then, finalists have been through two rounds of judging, an eight-week mentorship period, and numerous workshops to help them refine their ideas. Winners will be formally announced at the Big Ideas Awards Celebration on May 5, 2:00-4:00pm, in B100 Blum Hall at UC Berkeley.

The People’s Choice Video Contest is an additional way for teams to gain funding and support for their ideas, as well as a means to showcase the variety of this year’s projects. “The video contest is a terrific opportunity for these student innovators to talk directly to the public about the incredible work they are doing,” said Big Ideas Manager Phillip Denny. “Anyone who watches these videos will immediately sense the passion of the students and be inspired by their creative projects to improve society.”

Videos are now available for public vote on the Big Ideas Facebook page. Don’t miss your opportunity to help choose this year’s winner: http://bit.ly/1bLj4fP Voting will take place until Monday, May 4. The video with the most votes will receive a $2,500 award and will be announced at the Big Ideas Awards Celebration on May 5.

For more information, please contact the Big Ideas team:
bigideas [at] berkeley.edu
(510) 666-9120

Announcing the 2015 Grand Prize Pitch Day Finalists!

In November 2014, nearly 200 teams representing over 700 students applied to the Big Ideas@Berkeley student innovation contest with their plans and projects to improve society.  On April 28, six of the most inspiring and promising teams will pitch their projects to a panel of distinguished judges with the aim of receiving up to $5,000 in additional seed funding. The third annual Big Ideas Grand Prize Pitch Day promises to be an exciting event, involving a wide range of issues, such as improving children’s literacy, clean water solutions, culturally-based urban gardening, and cutting-edge technologies to assist physically disabled individuals.

Tarpeh-ImageThroughout the 2014-2015 academic year, these teams have taken advantage of information sessions, writing workshops, judging feedback, advising hours, 8-week mentorships, and other Big Ideas resources, in order to refine their ideas and transform them into projects with potential for real-world impact. Andrew Chong, a graduate student in the School of Information, is the team lead for Responsive City Lights, one of the six teams invited to Pitch Day. “Being part of Big Ideas at UC Berkeley has been a real boon to our project to develop a responsive system of city lights to enliven and extend the life of city streets as public spaces,” said Chong. “Our team is elated to be part of the Grand Prize Pitch Day and excited to see what other teams are working on.”

Ashley Lohmann, a first year MBA in the Haas School of Business, will pitch her team’s idea to help raise awareness about social innovations currently being developed in the Middle East.  “For our team, Big Ideas has been invaluable to our progress. As I’m sure everyone who has started a project or a venture knows, one of the most difficult tasks is moving from idea to implementation. Big Ideas gave us that push. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to share our work and our passion, and engage with the judging panel and our fellow colleagues.”

Pitch Day, which is open to the campus community, will be held April 28, 5:00 pm-8:30pm, in Blum Hall. There, contestants will deliver five-minute pitches followed by a question and answer sessions with the judges and audience members. There will be a welcoming reception from 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm, followed by finalist pitches from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Additional networking with Bay Area industry leaders and with students will follow, while the judges decide the evening’s winners. Throughout the event, there will also be a “Big Vote,” whereby audience members can learn about all the ideas in this year’s contest and vote for their favorites. Grand Prize winners will be announced at 8:30 pm.

Please join us for this inspiring event and root for your favorite Big Idea!

2015 Pitch Day Contestants:
Campus and Community Impact
Responsive City Lights: Urban Streets as Public Spaces (UC Berkeley): Responsive City Lights uses interactive light installations to enhance the perception of streets as engaging public spaces. The project reduces crime by increasing foot traffic and pedestrian interaction, bringing the Internet of Things into urban spaces to help fulfill a vital social need.
BCAPI (UC Berkeley): BCAPI is developing a powerful software and hardware package that will enable technology developers and researchers to create a range of Brain Computer Interfacing (BCI) technologies to assist people with physical disabilities who lack control of their bodies but still control their minds.
Bahay Kubo – Gardens of Living Tradition (UC Berkeley): Bahay Kubo (“Little House”) revitalizes Filipino food and culture to promote health through the creation of a culturally-based garden and culinary arts program. Bahay Kubo’s purpose is to lift up sustainable, healthy Filipino food practices that can ignite a culture shift toward good health.
Global Impact
Creating Decodable Readers in Haitian Creole (College of William & Mary): This project employs local teachers to create and teach reading materials that integrate Haiti’s mother-tongue and native culture. At its core, it is a software application that enables writers to create books for beginning readers using a systematic phonics approach.
Clean Water for Crops: As Simple as Sand and Seeds (UC Davis): This project will construct and operate a pilot-scale, slow seed-sand filtration system at UC Davis to assess the feasibility of a drinking water treatment technology, prior to building a pilot-scale system in Sololá, Guatemala in order to adjust the system to local conditions.
Amplify Impact (UC Berkeley): Amplify Impact raises global awareness about social innovation in the Middle East by providing an online platform for nonprofits and socially minded for-profits to produce and distribute story-driven, low-cost videos. The team envisions a world where initiatives that are catalyzing opportunity, hope, and positive change receive the attention they deserve.

For additional information:
(510) 666-9120