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7 Latin-American Start-ups Win the USD $130,000 UCR EPIC Eurosemillas International Incubation Challenge

The inaugural UCR EPIC Eurosemillas International Incubation Challenge for Latin American start-ups (UCR EPIC Challenge) by UC Riverside successfully announced its winners at a live online event on February 24, 2023.

The UCR EPIC Challenge was launched in response to the needs of the region, confirmed by a survey of 100 business incubators and technology transfer offices in Latin America conducted in 2022 by UC Riverside.  The survey indicated a clear interest by regional startups in internationalization to penetration of the US market. It also indicated that the primary roadblocks in accessing the US market included access to capital and venture investments followed by the need for introductions to network connections.  The need for mentoring, as well as language and cultural barriers also were important roadblocks.  Results of the survey are published in the white paper Latin American Entrepreneurs Need Incubation Support to Enter the United States Market and Succeed in a Global Economy.”

With a good understanding of the need in Latin America, UC Riverside launched the UCR EPIC Challenge with USD$130,000 in prizes. 

After reviewing numerous applications, 63 qualified for entry, from 13 Latin-American countries including 8 applications from Central America.  10 semi-finalists moved to the second round where they presented to a UC Riverside panel of commercialization and entrepreneurship experts. The 10 semi-finalists represented 6 countries and included impressive technologies in the areas of health, renewable energy, food, sustainable transportation, agriculture and natural resource management. 

The top 7 finalists later presented to a panel of internal and external judges and prize winners were announced at a live online award ceremony.  Winners are:

    • Grand Prize Winner, Seedorina, a Uruguayan startup with a seed planting robot, that received the top prize with USD$40,000 in cash, incubation by the UC Riverside team to enter the US market and a trip to Riverside.
    • UC Alianza MX Prize Winner, Tycho Solutions, a Mexican startup with a software for clean energy project planning, received a prize that included incubation by the UC Riverside team of experts to enter the US market, a trip to Riverside, and funds for a collaboration with a UC Riverside researcher.
    • Five Award Winners received a prize that includes mentoring by the UC Riverside team to help them prepare to access the US market.  The five Award winners are:  
      • BATx from Colombia with their second-life battery system
      • Pascal Tech from Ecuador with their electric bicycle conversion device
      • DProtein from Mexico with their optimized food protein
      • Ubique Biotech from Argentina with their platform for the development of synthetic peptides for diagnostics
      • ACOT Systems from Chile with their technology for wildfire detection using artificial intelligence.

The challenge sponsors included, Eurosemillas a global leader in the commercialization of agriculture innovations based in Spain, UC Riverside’s Office of Research and Economic Development, and the University of California Alianza Mexico initiative