Hey UC Students—What’s YOUR Big Idea?

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Big Ideas Contest Launches with New Video Overviews

With the start of the University of California year, comes the start of the Big Ideas student innovation Contest. Big Ideas is not just big in aspiration, it’s big in social and entrepreneurial impact. Since 2006, the Contest—open to undergraduate and graduate students at all 10 UC campuses—has kickstarted 2,000 early stage ventures and funded nearly 500 organizations, with teams going on to leverage an additional $650 million in funding in the areas of global health, workforce development, energy and resource alternatives, art and social change, food systems, connected communities, and more.

Why develop a dream project with Big Ideas? Because the Contest works with innovators at the earliest possible stage and offers eight months of resources and support that allow teams to move their innovations from conception to implementation. It’s true that not every Big Idea becomes an established for-profit, non-profit, or social enterprise. But every Big Ideas participant gains firsthand experience launching a project and developing an entrepreneurial mindset of curiosity, collaboration, resourcefulness, resiliency, and leadership. Increasingly, these are the “soft skills” top companies seek in their employees.

Want to get inspired? Watch these videos highlighting this year’s Contest categories that call for ideas of every kind.

Note that Big Ideas Information Sessions will take place at Blum Hall on September 12 and 26 at 6 pm and the Pre-Proposal Deadline is November 14.

And read the testimonials below from just a few Big Ideas winners.

“Big Ideas ends up being much more than an award or grant, because it gives you that confidence to go forward. As soon as we got the news we had won, that was the first time we said, ‘Hey, let’s give up what we we’re doing and follow our passion.’”

–Alejandro Velez, Back to the Roots, a sustainable food company whose ready-to-grow and ready-to-eat products are sold all over the country

“Big Ideas helped us take a step back and synthesize everything we had learnt about the market, as well as gave us a unique opportunity to think about the short- and long-term vision for our startup. This was incredibly useful for our team, as we interviewed at accelerators and eventually started our venture after Berkeley. We could not have got there without Big Ideas support, mentors, and connections.”

–Federico Alvarez del Blanco, VIDI, a startup that helps hospitals track surgical instruments to prevent medical errors that kill more than 200,000 patients per year

“Big Ideas has pushed our business forward in ways we could have never imagined.  The overall process was great, but we were really blown away by the amazing advisors Big Ideas connected us with. In just a few months, we went from a couple guys selling fish to a formal company ready for launch.”

–Mike Mitchell, Acari: a startup that takes Mexico’s invasive armored catfish, or “devil fish,” and transforms it into food products to increase employment in rural fishing communities and provide a healthy alternative to beef jerky

“The entire Big Ideas process, from start to finish, led us to ask tough questions early on and hold ourselves accountable beyond the world of academia.”

–Anne Wootton, Pop-Up Radio Archive, an online platform of tools for organizing and searching digital spoken words, acquired by Apple in 2017