A design for a high-tech closure for wine bottles that would allow the wine to breathe much like traditional bark corks won the $15,000 first prize in the annual Big Bang! Business Plan Competition at the University of California, Davis. The contest is run by students in the Graduate School of Management.
The screw-cap concept, which could help prevent some $10 billion worth of wine from being ruined every year by cork taint, will compete next on May 28 at the Draper Fisher Jurvetson Venture Challenge in Palo Alto, Calif. The challenge pits the UC Davis team against the winners of business plan competitions at 15 other top west coast business schools. The prize: $250,000 in start-up funding.
“These students are trying things that more experienced people might say shouldn’t be done,” said Scott Lenet, managing director of DFJ Frontier and a volunteer judge for this year’s Big Bang! Business Plan Competition. “That’s why these business plan competitions are so important. These are the people who will create the next Microsoft, the next Amgen.”
In addition to the first-prize-winning cork concept, a $5,000 second prize and $3,000 “people’s choice” award — selected by audience vote — went to the same team: Arcus. Led by second-year MBA candidate Matt Vogel, who has had diabetes since adolescence, the team is developing technology that would allow people with diabetes to test their blood sugar levels by blowing into a small handheld device — a pain-free alternative to current glucose monitoring, in which patients must prick their fingers to draw a blood sample two to eight times a day.
The Big Bang! competition, founded in 2000 by students at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, is designed to reward innovation at UC Davis and encourage entrepreneurship in the region at large. – ucdavisnews