On Wednesday, December 6, UC Riverside hosted the SoCal OASIS™ Challenge Pitch Finals, showcasing the innovation and talent within Inland Southern California. The event welcomed more than 180 attendees to campus and featured six promising startups competing for a chance to win $100,000 in grants and expert mentorship from the UCR EPIC Small Business Development Center (EPIC SBDC) for product and market development. The audience also participated in voting to select one of the startups to receive an additional $5,000 award.
UC Riverside is at the forefront of cultivating an ecosystem to inspire innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E), actively supporting these endeavors through the Office of Technology Partnerships. The university's I&E initiatives focus on four key areas of support: entrepreneurial education, dedicated mentorship provided by experienced entrepreneurs in residence, access to capital, and access to incubator space.
The pitch competition was sponsored by The James Irvine Foundation and US Bank and is part of the SoCal OASIS™ initiative. OASIS stands for Opportunities to Advance Sustainability, Social Inclusion, and Innovation, the initiative is led by UC Riverside and is dedicated to fostering the expansion of inclusive economic development in Inland Southern California.
André De Rosa, CEO and Founder of LampLighter Energy, kicked off the evening with an inspiring keynote address that shared his perspective on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, and served as a judge. Other members of the judging panel included Sean Varner, Managing Partner, Varner & Brandt; Nicholas Adcock, President/CEO, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce; Tim Jenkins, Co-founder, SendGrid; Erika Moran, Small Business Specialist, US Bank; and Jay Goth, CEO, Redtail Capital.
All six finalists were presented certificates of recognition from Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes to acknowledge their outstanding accomplishments. The six finalists included:
A&G Electronics, pitched by Gabriela Atwater of Riverside, champions a circular economy strategy aimed at minimizing manufacturing and preserving natural resources. The focus is on affording used items a second chance before they enter the waste stream.
Cash Electronic Designs (CEDI), pitched by Roberto Valderrama of Rialto, stands out as a leading company specializing in the design and distribution of Magnetic Energy Converters tailored for electric motors. Using their newly patented technology, CEDI has revolutionized the energy recovery landscape by tapping into recovery points previously deemed unusable.
From the Land, pitched by Gina Oliver of Yucaipa, is focused on increasing food security for all by leveraging both modern and ancient technologies to establish a sustainable circular food production system. This innovative approach involves the collection, storage, and cycling of energy, water, and nutrients.
Indrio Technologies, pitched by Rito Sur of Riverside, aims to harness the capabilities of modern laser-based spectroscopy for widespread applications in the mass market."
Laundry to Landscaping, pitched by Andrea Cuellar of Moreno Valley, is committed to addressing the urgent challenge of water scarcity and its direct association with desertification—a critical issue impacting more than 100 countries worldwide.
Necessary Homes, pitched by Emily Kroll of Palm Springs, is dedicated to tackling California's housing shortage by constructing net-zero-ready eco-homes. The objective is to procure as many production components as possible from the United States, employing non-toxic materials and finishes for interiors.