Haas Newsroom

Harmonic Devices Takes Top Prize at the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition

Berkeley (May 2) --- Harmonic Devices, a team that developed a business plan based on technology from recent research breakthroughs developed at the University of California, Berkeley, won the $25,000 grand prize at the seventh annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition at the Haas School of Business.

The competition is organized annually by Berkeley MBA students and hosted by the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in collaboration with UC Berkeley's College of Engineering and School of Information Management and Systems, as well as UC San Francisco.

Harmonic Devices uses a micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) to improve wireless communication devices. The MEMS technology is based on research breakthroughs achieved at the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC) at the UC Berkeley. It promises to improve component miniaturization, integration, and performance for wireless communication devices, enabling longer battery life, lower heat dissipation, and lower costs. Its initial target market will be mobile phones and other portable wireless handsets. The Harmonic Devices team members are: John Hwang, MBA 05, Kenneth Miller, MBA 05, Philip Stephanou, Ph.D. 06 (mechanical engineering), and Justin Black and Gianluca Piazza, both Ph.D. 05 in electrical engineering and computer science.

“Harmonic Devices exemplifies what is so great about so many of the plans this year: MBA students teaming up with engineers and scientists to bring forward valuable and viable new business ideas," says Jerome Engel, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "I predict that many of this year's finalists will secure the venture funding they need. Indeed, many of those conversations have started.”

Harmonic Devices had previously won the UC Berkeley Nanotech Challenge and the Elevator Pitch Challenge at the University of San Francisco's annual International Business Plan Competition in early 2005.

Second place went to World of Good, which was also voted the People's Choice Award winner. The team took home a total of $15,000 in prize money. World of Good also won the 2005 Global Social Venture Competition, held at the Haas School in April. World of Good distributes a line of globally sourced, fair trade gifts and accessories to the retail market and aims to generate sustainable livelihoods for thousands of artisans around the world. These products are sourced through a series of global partnerships and are marketed under one umbrella brand, World of Good, which embodies the values of ethical sourcing. The World of Good team members are: Priya Haji, MBA 03, Siddharth Sanghvi, MBA 03, David Guendelman, MBA 06, and Jonathan Klein, MBA 06.

The Helios team, which took both third place and the Technology Award, created a business plan based on a breakthrough solar cell technology developed and patented by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with the University of California. The Technology Award recognizes the best new technology presented in the competition. The team took home $12,500 to help launch its business. The team members are Charles Haythornethwaite, MBA 06, Jeff Renaud, MBA 05, Krzysztof Kujawa, MBA 06, Zach Gentry, MBA 05, Sonny Li, Ph.D. 06 (materials science and education), and Dr. Anders Geertsen, MBA 06.

UC Berkeley MBA students founded the competition in 1998 to create a platform that would help transform university innovations into viable commercial enterprises. Each venture must have at least one student, alumnus/a, or faculty member from UC Berkeley or UC San Francisco's Life Sciences campus on its management team. This year's competition enjoyed the support of more than 80 judges from leading venture-capital firms and donations fro m 22 sponsors.

Lead sponsor of the competition is Intel Capital. Silver Sponsors include Sevin Rosen Funds, QUALCOMM Incorporated, Blue Run Ventures (formerly Nokia Ventures) and ComVentures. Bronze Sponsors are Foundation Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Reed Smith, Versant Ventures, Palo Alto Software, Morgenthaler Ventures, Advanced Technology Ventures, Pillsbury Winthrop LLP, and Newforth Partners. Friends of the Business Plan Competition include Morgan Stanley, Draper Foundation, G-Office & Kevin Warnock, American River Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Max Shapiro-People Connect and Goldman Sachs.

For more information on the competition, go to http://bplan.berkeley.edu or contact Sarah Benson at the Haas School at 510-642-2734 or benson@haas.berkeley.edu