The Big Bang Competition at UC Davis

The Big Bang Competition at UC Davis is the place for Bay Area entrepreneurs to bring their emerging business plans out of the closet and into the limelight. Already in its sixth year, this high-profile contest has handed out nearly $100,000 in prize funding to promising entrepreneurs affiliated with the school.


Each year, Big Bang offers $10K, $5K, and $3K to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, respectively. In addition, the competition provides a powerful series of educational workshops designed to help contestants develop and/or refine their business plans.

Teams also have fantastic opportunities networking and mentoring with industry professionals and successful investors with deep roots in the start-up market. An “Entrepreneurship Exchange” is also available for participants searching for teammates.


Although no particular genre is specified, competing teams must have at least one active member (playing a key operative role in the business plan’s development and presentation) with a UC Davis affiliation (faculty, staff, alumni, or student).

Executive summaries and business plans must be within 2 and 35 pages, respectively. All submissions must be in made electronically as e-mail attachments in MS Word or PDF format sent to (no hard copies will be accepted) and must include current comprehensive contact information.

Teams with $250K or more in equity funding may not participate, in an effort to keep the competition more available for newer startups.

Designed to be a learning experience as well as a competition, Big Bang requires that team representatives attend all accompanying workshops and events.


Big Bang begins each November and runs through the following May. Teams are formed November through early January. The Entrepreneurs’ Exchange is a resource available for those contestants looking to form synergies or recruit new team members. Warm-up rounds begin in January when judges become available to critique teams’ executive summary drafts (which become due in February). Semifinalists are announced in March, who then must submit full business plans in April. Finalists are announced in mid-April. Final presentations are made in May, after which winners are announced.

Judging Criteria

Judges from the Sacramento and Bay Area are looking for teams whose management demonstrates ability to implement their respective plans. Successful teams prove viability and value of their business.

Contestants must articulate very well how their product will be positioned as well as provide a concise definition of their target market segment. Key competitive differentiators and sustainable competitive advantages are also desirable attributes.

The judges also scrutinize carefully the financial feasibility of each startup plan. Presentations must show a strong market potential and a robust estimated operating profit.

Recent Winners

2006 (two first-place winners)

1st Place: Mesolytics – portable diagnostic tools using “nanowire” technology.

1st Place: Ensembles – customized family meal service.


1st Place: SialoGen – chemical technology for cancer treatment and therapy.

2nd Place: Inventra – innovative prosthetic valve technology and devices for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

3rd Place (People’s Choice): Davis Biopharma – technology for the screening of chemical compounds used in the development of pharmaceutical treatments and medication.


1st Place: Gradient Design – software solution for emerging thermal problems in next-generation integrated circuit designs.

2nd Place: Lab Info – software for disease surveillance and bioterrorism defense.

3rd Place (People’s Choice): ICI – revolutionary technology for waste-to-energy conversion, clean coal gasification, and oil shale extraction.


1st Place: Emergent Software – applications for product tracking.

2nd Place: Visual Calc – visio-dynamic web-based presentation software for financial service providers.

3rd Place (People’s Choice): Scalable Life Sciences – genetic technologies for augmentation of crop size, hardiness and yield.

For further details on participating in the Big Bang Business Plan Competition at UC Davis, please visit