Winning Ideas in the Lab and the Boardroom


UC San Diego is tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit at the forefront of scientific discovery to help uncover the university’s next big business idea.

A partnership of the Rady School of Management, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at Jacobs School of Engineering, the Triton Innovation Network (TriNet) encourages innovative faculty, staff, and students to connect with business leaders and bring their compelling ideas to market.

On Jan. 17, 2013, the group will hold the second annual TriNet Challenge, sponsored by the Scripps Foundation, to spotlight commercially promising, environmentally focused technologies generated by UC San Diego’s finest minds. The competition aims to give entrepreneurially minded scientists and engineers the opportunity to develop and advance a business plan for their technologies and provide an avenue for potential funding. The TriNet Challenge also offers networking opportunities and personalized mentoring for scientists and engineers by experienced business professionals.

Last year’s winning idea was a collaborative effort between two of the TriNet schools. Rady student Simon Bailey presented the Aequoreus Pharma Innovation project, which targets a business market between the pharmaceutical industry and academia. The plan to tap the oceans as a new source of drug candidates was based on the research and discovery of Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists William Fenical and Paul Jensen, who have helped shape the field of marine biomedicine.

Again this year, commercially relevant projects based on Scripps science are set to make a strong showing at the TriNet Challenge. Four of the seven semifinalists are from Scripps. Semifinalists will be paired with business advisors from the von Liebig Center, who will coach participants as they hone their product, market, and business concepts, in preparation to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges in an attempt to win $11,000 in cash prizes. 

The final TriNet Challenge event will be held Jan. 17, 2013, at 6 p.m. in Wells Fargo Hall at the Rady School of Management. Registration is free and open to the public, but required, as space is limited. RSVP to

Scripps congratulates our semifinalists and wishes them luck in the final competition:

Mitigation of Natural Hazards and Structural Monitoring using GPS/Seismic Technology
Abstract: This project is focused on monitoring large engineered structures to warn of imminent collapse and damage due to seismic activity, winds, heavy traffic, etc., using new technology that optimally combines GPS and seismic data. (Yehuda Bock, Scripps Research Geodesist)

SEA-EYE: Underwater Hyperspectral Imaging Technology for Exploration and Health Assessment of the Oceans
Abstract: The need for underwater hyperspectral imaging analysis is vast and diverse, touching many different disciplines and businesses, and could revolutionize certain aspects of science and oil and mineral prospecting. For discovery, such a system would ease exploration of the oceans by providing mapping of the mineral, chemical, and biological composition of specific areas. For health assessment, the technology will help provide early detection of marine areas under stress.

(Dimitri Deheyn, Scripps Associate Project Scientist)

Abstract: With the increasing need for local, sustainable food products, NuGarden seeks to provide urban individuals who have minimal space, time, and available effort, a simple and effective way to produce quality fruits, vegetables, and herbs in their own home.

(David Manley, Rady School of Management; David Black, Scripps Associate Development Engineer; Kyle Grindley, Scripps Junior Development Engineer; Taylor Semingson, Scripps Assistant Development Engineer)

Discovery of Growth-inducing Compound in Microalgae to Decrease Costs of Biofuel Production
Abstract: Algal biofuels are grown in mass culture, which are time-and resource-intensive to produce. A major inefficiency in this production process is the duration of time between when a mass culture is started and when enough algae cells have grown to trigger an exponential growth phase in their population. My colleagues and I have discovered a growth-inducing compound in marine diatoms, a type of algae used in biofuel research, that can decrease the amount of time it takes for algae to start growing exponentially by 40 percent.

(Maria Vernet, Scripps Research Biologist)

--Shannon Casey
December 21, 2012

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