Information on this page will be frequently updated, so keep checking back for additional details on these events and more. Recordings will be made available following each livestream event (see “Past Events & Recordings” section below).
Kicking off the 2023-24 Speaker Series is Marco Lobba, CEO and Co-Founder of Catena Biosciences. Catena is a revolutionary life sciences company that is developing a novel protein conjugation technology that can be applied to new therapies and treatments for cancer, vaccines, and autoimmune disorders. Stick around after this inspiring talk and learn more about the Big Ideas Contest and how to get funding, support and recognition for your early-stage social venture. RSVP HERE
October 3rd, 5:00pm PT | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
The first step to creating your Big Idea to address a Big Problem is to accurately identify and articulate the problem you are trying to solve. On October 3rd, we will be joined by Jill Finlayson, Managing Director of the CITRIS Innovation Hub who will share how to gain insights into the problem you are working to solve using Systems Mapping, a key entrepreneurial tool. RSVP HERE.
October 12th, Noon PT | B120 Blum Hall
This second session of the Speaker Series features Diondraya Taylor, Founder of Mindset & Milestones, a new type of social enterprise that is equipping the next generation of young women with the entrepreneurial skills and mindsets they need to bring their ideas to life. Stick around after this inspiring talk and learn more about the Big Ideas Contest and how to get funding, support and recognition for your early-stage social venture. RSVP HERE
October 25th, 5:00pm PT | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
Customer Discovery goes beyond interviewing potential customers. Customer discovery is essential for not only understanding the needs of the community you wish to impact, but also to understand how to best bring the solution to them. Join us on Oct 25th, where Program Director of the NSF Bay Area I-Corps Node, Dave Weiner, will share the fundamentals of conducting your own customer discovery and how to incorporate the insights into your social venture. RSVP HERE
November 7th, 5:00pm PT | Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall
Innovators@Cal is an annual flagship entrepreneurship event on the UC Berkeley campus, designed to mobilize students from across disciplines who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s keynote speaker will be Komal Ahmad, Founder of Copia. Copia is a venture-backed logistics technology platform for food waste management. To date Copia has recovered 6.5M+ tons of food and delivered over 5.4M meals. Following the keynote, students in attendance will have the opportunity to pitch their own early-stage ideas, grow their networks, build teams, and explore the Cal Innovation ecosystem. RSVP REQUIRED
November 14th, 5:00pm PT | B120 Blum Hall
How do you tell the story of your social impact venture? We will be joined by Anne Cocquyt, the founder of The GUILD, an education hub for female founders and investors. As a fractional COO, Anne helps entrepreneurs craft their stories to raise early-stage funding (up to $10M) for their startups and non profit organizations. Anne will lead an interactive session on how to craft your impact arc within the context of the Big Ideas pre-proposal and how you can describe your impact to a variety of stakeholders. RSVP HERE
November 16th, Noon PT | B120 Blum Hall
The final Speaker Series event features Andy Zhao, Co-Founder & CTO of Limelight Steel and 2021 Big Ideas winner. Limelight Steel, a venture-backed startup, is eliminating fossil fuels from steelmaking by providing clean industrial heat specifically tuned for iron ore, resulting in 40% less energy and zero emissions. Stick around after this inspiring talk and learn more about the Big Ideas Contest and how to get funding, support and recognition for your early-stage social venture. RSVP HERE
November 30th, December 1st, 4th & 5th | All Day | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
With only a few days left before the pre-proposal deadline (DECEMBER 6th!) come and receive last minute advice and help with your pre-proposal. Take advantage of this final opportunity to fine-tune your pre-proposal and receive last-minute feedback by signing up for an in-person or zoom advising appointment with a member of the Big Ideas staff. Click here to book an appointment.
December 6th, Due by 1 pm PT | Online submission
December 6th marks the deadline to submit your pre-proposal! Please allow at least 30 minutes to complete the entire process. Late submissions will not be accepted, so make sure to contact us if you have any questions.
March 21, 5:00pm PT | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
Learn how to effectively craft the Big Ideas Timeline, Budget, and Success Metrics sections of your full proposal application. The Big Ideas professional team will lead an overview and discussion highlighting examples, best practices and tips provided by successful past applicants. (Open to all Big Ideas, LIFT Initiative and Impact Fund Applicants) RSVP Required
(Wednesday, March 15 , 5:00-6:00pm | ONLINE ZOOM)
Now that you have had a chance to work on your pitch, it’s time to put it to the test. Pitch your idea to our network of judges and mentors and gain valuable feedback before the application deadline. This session will allow each team the opportunity to deliver their pitch multiple times to an array of industry professionals, in a 1-on-1 setting, and receive expert feedback. Please note you must RSVP for this session by Thursday, March 9 (5pm) so that we know in advance exactly how many industry professionals to recruit for this event. Only sign-up if you are 100% committed to attending the entirety of this event (no-show is not an option for this event.) (Open to all Big Ideas, LIFT Initiative and Impact Fund Applicants) RSVP HERE (Required)
April 3 | 4 pm PT| Zoom Advising Appointments
Come meet one on one with expert advisors from the Big Ideas network to discuss your innovative ideas and critical guidance and constructive feedback. The experts bring years of experience advising and coaching startups along with robust technical expertise. The list of experts will be shared in advance and students can sign up for 30 minute advising appointments. This session fills up fast, so look out for an email in mid-March with a registration link.
(Thursday, March 9, 5:00-6:00pm | 120 Blum Hall)
Join us to learn how you can create the most impactful and effective elevator pitch. In this workshop we will discuss expectations for the pitch video requirement and how you can create the best pitch possible. In the second half of the workshop, we will dive into a working session so you have an opportunity to begin crafting your perfect pitch. (Open to all Big Ideas, LIFT Initiative and Impact Fund Applicants) RSVP HERE (Required)
(April 4, 5 & 6 | All Day | 120 Blum Hall & Zoom Appointments)
With only a few days left before the Full Proposal deadline (April 7 for Big Ideas teams and April 11 for Mastercard Foundation Alumni Scholars and LIFT Initiative teams), come and receive last minute advice on your pre-proposal application. Take advantage of this final opportunity to fine-tune your application and receive feedback by signing up for an advising appointment with a member of the Big Ideas advising staff. (Registration opens mid-March)
September 20, 5:30pm PT | B120 Blum Hall [UC Berkeley]
Luke Latimer, cofounder and CSO of ZestBio, will talk about the origins of his Big Idea to transform agricultural waste streams into specialty chemicals, helping manufacturers meet consumer demand for eco-friendly products while avoiding synthetic chemicals and their associated environmental impacts. Following this inspiring talk, Big Ideas advisors will provide an overview of the rules, requirements and eligibility for the Big Ideas Contest. RSVP Here (Required!)
October 13, 12:00pm PT | B120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
Get inspired by the startup story of Dost Education, as told by its CEO and cofounder, Sneha Sheth. Dost Education puts parents of any literacy or income level at the center of their child’s early learning. Currently launched in India, Dost reached 30,000 families in its first two years of operations and aims to turn 1 million homes into learning labs this year. Following this, Big Ideas advisors will provide an overview of the rules, requirements and eligibility for the 2022-23 Big Ideas Contest. RSVP Here (Required)
October 14, 12:00pm PT | Jacobs Hall, Room 310, UC Berkeley
Jointly hosted by the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Big Ideas, and the Development Engineering Program, Designing for Social Impact is an interactive panel discussion moderated by Jeffrey Eyet, CEO and Co-founder of The Berkeley Innovation Group. Joining the conversation will be a “dream team” panel of successful social innovators who will discuss how they incorporated user research, creative thinking methods, and other human-centered design principals to solve complex social challenges.
RSVP here by October 7th to attend. (Light bites and refreshments will be served.)
October 25, 5:30pm PT | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley
Polygon is a new kind of psychology practice specializing in online testing and support for dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning differences Meryll Dindin, Polygon’s cofounder and chief technology officer will talk about how his team created the vision and built this company that has now successfully raised $4.2 million of venture funding. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about the rules, eligibility and requirements for the 2022-2023 Big Ideas Contest. RSVP Here (Required)
November 15, 12:00pm PT | ONLINE ONLY
Learn everything you need to know to get funding (up to $20K!), support, and recognition to help you launch your early-stage social venture. Big Ideas advisors will provide an overview of the rules, requirements, and eligibility for the 2022-23 Big Ideas Contest. Then there will be plenty of time for participants to ask questions and learn more about some of the amazingly successful startups and ventures that have begun with a “Big Idea”! RSVP Here (Required)
November 17, 5:30pm PT | Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center, UC Berkeley
Innovators@Cal is designed to foster collaboration across the UC Berkeley campus. Kicking off the event will be keynote speaker David Breslauer (PhD, BioEng ’10), cofounder and CTO of Bolt Threads. David leads technology innovation at Bolt, creating and incubating biomaterials for improved consumer products. Bolt has more than 100 employees and offices in the US and Europe and is the latest Cal startup to achieve “unicorn” status.
Following the keynote, students and student teams will be provided with opportunities to advance their ideas and ventures through two-minute pitches on stage and whiteboard sessions where students can discuss their ideas with other innovators, receive feedback, recruit new team members, and more! Innovators@Cal is hosted by Big Ideas, Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, Haas Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs@Berkeley, Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association, and Berkeley Venture Capital.
RSVP to attend or to participate in the pitch/whiteboarding sessions (Required. Space is limited!)
(December 1 | 12:00-12:45pm PT | Online via Zoom)
Get inside the head of a Big Ideas pre-proposal judge and learn what they are looking for when they review applications. What makes an idea stand out? What are some commonalities they see across the best Big Ideas? What are the common strengths and weaknesses? A panel of our most seasoned judges will answer all these questions and more, with plenty of time for Q&A with the Zoom audience. RSVP HERE!
(Wednesday, December 7 | Due 1pm PT | Online submission)
Deadline to submit your pre-proposal! Please carefully read all of the instructions on the Big Ideas application page and allow at least 30 minutes to complete the entire application/upload process. Late submissions will not be accepted, so make sure to contact us if you have any questions. (Application period opens on October 3.)
May 3rd (4:00pm – 7:00pm) | Blum Hall
The Big Ideas Grand Prize Pitch Day and Awards Celebration brings together the entire Big Ideas community to recognize the most outstanding social innovations being developed by students from across UC Berkeley. All of the 2023 Big Ideas finalists (list of projects) will be on hand to present their innovative ideas. The top 3-5 teams from the Final Round will engage in an exciting pitch competition and vie for top honors and the $10,000 Grand Prize. Following the Big Ideas Grand Prize pitches, this year’s LIFT “FinTech for Social Good” teams will pitch their ideas to unlock the potential of digital financial technologies to benefit underserved populations around the world. Winners of the Grand Prize and LIFT initiative will be recognized during the Awards Celebration remarks at the conclusion of this fun event! (Registration Required– RSVP Forthcoming)
November 10 | 4 pm PT| Zoom Advising Appointments
Come meet one on one with expert advisors from the Big Ideas network to discuss your innovative ideas and critical guidance and constructive feedback. The experts bring years of experience advising and coaching startups along with robust technical expertise. The list of experts will be shared in advance and students can sign up for 30 minute advising appointments. This session fills up fast, so look out for an announcement in the Big Ideas Newsletter in October. Register here.
November 15 & 17 | All Day | 120 Blum Hall, UC Berkeley & Zoom Appointments
With only a few days left before the pre-proposal deadline (Nov. 18th), come and receive last-minute advice on your pre-proposal application. Take advantage of this final opportunity to fine-tune your pre-proposal and receive feedback by signing up for an advising appointment with a member of the Big Ideas advising staff.
November 18 | Due 1pm PT | Online submission
Deadline to submit your pre-proposal! Please carefully read all of the instructions on the Big Ideas application page and allow at least 30-45 minutes to complete the entire application/upload process. Late submissions will not be accepted, so make sure to contact us if you have any questions.