Meet the 2024 Big Ideas Award Winners!

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2024 Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Pitch Day & Awards Celebration

This year’s Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Contest received 160 applications from UC Berkeley students and its partner campus, the University of Sussex (UK), demonstrating the commitment of over 400 graduate and undergraduate students to addressing the world’s most pressing social challenges, from womens’ health, climate change mitigation, and financial access for underserved populations. Following a thorough review by experts across academia, industry, and the venture community, 28 finalists emerged. Of these, 20 are led by women, half are led by undergraduate students, and 23 are led by POC students. 

Grand Prize Winner, Code Blue with the 2024 Pitch Day Judges. Left to right: Judge Ashok Gadgil, Judge Dawn McGee, Ashmita Kumar, Co-founder & CEO of Code Blue, and Judge Paul Williams.

On May 1st, 2024, the UC Berkeley community came together to honor all of the teams that participated in the 2023-2024 Big Ideas Contest, as well as to crown this year’s Grand Prize Winner. 

Read about each award winner below!

About Big Ideas: Established in 2006 at UC Berkeley and managed by the Blum Center for Developing Economies, The Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Contest has evolved from a yearly contest at Berkeley into a comprehensive innovation ecosystem. This platform supports UC Berkeley students throughout the year with a variety of resources, including talks by industry experts and alumni, mentorship opportunities, toolkits, and a range of  workshops focused on innovation and social entrepreneurship. Throughout its history, Big Ideas has fostered over 4,000 innovative projects, involving more than 10,000 students, and has distributed $3.2 million in prizes to 600 top projects. These winning initiatives have subsequently secured approximately $1.2 billion in additional funding. It is made possible thanks to its generous partners which include: The Rudd Family Foundation, Blum Center for Developing Economies, University of California Office of the President, the Associated Students of the University of California, Lab for Inclusive FinTech, UC Berkeley Center for African Studies

The 2023–2024 Big Ideas Winners:

Big Ideas Grand Prize Winner​

Team Members: Ashmita Kumar

Code Blue is a plugin built into users’ devices that is designed to detect the early signs of stroke by analyzing already-in-use video and audio streams. It then alerts emergency services and the user’s emergency contact on onset of symptoms to expedite medical intervention, preventing long-term damage and death.

Big Ideas Grand Prize Finalist

Team Members: Ojas Karnavat

Synaptrix Labs is revolutionizing mobility for severe motor impairments through brain-computer interfaces. Their flagship device, Neuralis, leverages EEG signals from the visual cortex, and enables precise wheelchair control via evoked potentials. Neuralis redefines independence, offering unparalleled freedom through cutting-edge brain-computer interface technology for paraplegic patients with ALS or SCI.


Big Ideas Grand Prize Finalist

Team Members: Titli Thind

Narmadaई co-creates sustainable, affordable, and culturally relevant homes for communities displaced by India’s Sardar Sarovar Dam, currently living in 12′ by 16′ tin-sheds. The team will use permaculture design, scalable natural building techniques, and local community knowledge to build homes that bring joy and a host of co-benefits.


Big Ideas Grand Prize Finalist, California Climate Action Prize

Team Members: Kayla Leung, Samuel Nahusuly

SeaWipes proposes a revolutionary shift in single-use hygiene products by introducing biodegradable wet wipes made from seaweed-based bioplastics and fabric. Addressing environmental concerns associated with traditional wet wipes, which contribute to sewer blockages and microplastic pollution due to non-wovens (plastic fibers), SeaWipes offers a sustainable, quickly decomposing alternative.


Big Ideas Award Winner, FinTech for Social Good Recognition Prize

Team Members: Aarush Gupta, Aaryan Chanda

In the United States, over two million individuals hold arts degrees, but under 10% are able to pursue art as a full-time profession. ArtistX addresses this gap with a groundbreaking platform where fans invest directly in artists. Fans purchase coins tied to artists’ digital popularity allowing them to profit as the artist becomes more famous.

Big Ideas Award Winner, California Climate Action Prize

Team Members: Paul​ Bryzek​, Ashutosh​ Tiwari​, Kritika​ Mishra

CarbonSustain offers carbon emissions accounting and AI-driven insights for SMBs, streamlining emissions management across all scopes and facilitating cost-effective decarbonization journeys, akin to a TurboTax for emissions reporting. CarbonSustain simplifies carbon accounting for SMBs, enhancing savings and brand value while aligning with key legislations like California’s Climate Accountability Package.

Cottage Co.

Big Ideas Award Winner, Supply Chain Diversity Prize

Team Members: Mairi Creedon

Cottage Co. is a virtual incubator and digital marketplace for home-based food businesses across the United States, starting in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Alameda County. The platform integrates an online marketplace with a customized, self-paced incubator so that home-based food business entrepreneurs can be sure they’re operating safely and legally while expanding their reach to new customers.

Big Ideas Award Winner, California Climate Action Prize

Team Members: Sanjana Gurram, Pooja Patel, Bryan Wong

EquiPad is a sustainably designed disposable pad alternative, conveniently provided in a roll format for easy accessibility and no need for new infrastructure. The company’s mission is to make our pads free and readily available in all public restrooms just like toilet paper. 


Big Ideas Award Winner, California Climate Action Prize, Supply Chain Diversity Prize

Team Members: Carmela Wilkins

fufu is a food design research hub empowering Black/African Diasporic communities to reclaim their rights as food citizens for food sovereignty. Beginning with our pilot, an up-cycled plant-based Jamaican hand pie, we are fostering community-driven food solutions to boldly address the complexities of Food Apartheid.


Big Ideas Award Winner, Supply Chain Diversity Prize

Team Members: Kaone​ Tlagae​, Risper​ Rwengo​, Anjana​ Shekhar

Habari is the eBay of small and medium-sized artisan businesses in Africa; a conduit for these artisans to regain their creative power and independence from big predatory corporations, expand their reach to US-facing markets, generate long-term income that can transform their lives and local communities.

Movement As Leadership

Big Ideas Award Winner

Team Members: Colby Sameshima

Movement as Leadership is an evidence-based, dance-based, leadership development and team-building modality that increases authentic social connection at work. MAL aims to fight the loneliness epidemic and reduce employee attrition, starting with pilot workshops at Pixar and UC Berkeley Haas.


Big Ideas Award Winner, California Climate Action Prize

Team Members: Mia Wesselkamper

PLU stickers are the new age equivalent of plastic straws — a symbol of the significant environmental challenges posed by seemingly inconsequential items. To enable development of fully compostable PLU stickers, Nopa has developed a compostable adhesive using a drought resistant and heat tolerant plant.

Open Credit

Big Ideas Award Winner

Team Members: Jenny​ Su​, Tiger​ Souvannakoumane​, Edward​ Chan​, Annie​ Guo​, Pavitraa​ Parthasarathy

Open Credit is the next generation credit bureau helping lenders expand credit access by providing lenders exclusive access to real-time data not available in credit bureaus. Open Credit helps lenders improve their ability to service their customers, enabling better decision-making and financial inclusivity for all.

Big Ideas Award Winner, California Climate Action Prize

Team Members: Prerana​ Gambhir​, Neil​ Shah​, Claudia​ Vazquez​, Apurv​ Naman

Pyronaut revolutionizes wildfire risk management by leveraging AI analysis of diverse data sources, including third-party satellite and first-party drone imagery, to deliver precise wildfire risk assessments for properties and communities. It is also a proactive mitigation platform that lowers the physical, emotional, and monetary losses to communities caused by wildfires.

The MEGAN Protocol

Big Ideas Award Winner, HealthTech CoLab Prize

Team Members: Maxwell​ Johnson​, Valentin​ Astie

The MEGAN Protocol offers a groundbreaking, AI-powered diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease, combining a wearable sensor system with a reinforced-learning algorithm for comprehensive neurological assessment. It democratizes healthcare access, ensures early detection and monitoring, and significantly reduces diagnostic costs, making it a revolutionary solution in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.