Haas Newsroom

Berkeley Semiconductor Team Wins Inaugural Intel, Berkeley Tech Challenge

Berkeley (November 22) -- Harmonic Devices, an all-Berkeley team whose semiconductor technology promises to dramatically improve the cost, functionality, and size of portable devices, won the global Intel+UC Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge on Friday, November 18, on the UC Berkeley campus.

The competition was sponsored by Intel Corporation and hosted by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business to promote the commercialization of technology innovations that promise significant positive impact on industry and society.

Harmonic Devices took the challenge’s grand prize of $25,000 for its technology that delivers new levels of component miniaturization, longer battery life, and lower costs. For their initial target market of mobile phones and other portable wireless handsets, Harmonic Devices will introduce the world’s first silicon chip integrating radio-frequency filters for multiple bands.

Two additional prizes of $7,500 each went to the two teams from Singapore National University: BioMers and Infinity.

The top Technology Impact Prize went to BioMers, a medical device company that manufactures the first orthodontic braces that feature both translucent brackets and wires.

Infinity won the prize for Global Market Impact with a new lens technology, FluidOptics™, that creates better focusing and enhanced zoom features for ultra-compact size electronics, including camera phones, compact digital cameras, and camcorders.

“This competition brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to learn from each other -- these teams are all winners,” said Jerome Engel, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “In joining forces with us, Intel recognized the unique setting the Haas School and its Lester Center provide to promote global innovation due to their excellence in both technology and business innovation.”

The ten finalists in the challenge were selected as the best technology-based ventures that resulted from five business plan competitions around the world: the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition; the Business Innovation Technology competition, a collaboration of six Russian universities; Tec de Monterrey's Premio Intel competition in Mexico; National University of Singapore's Start-Up@Singapore Enterprise Launcher; and Arizona State University's Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The finalist teams presented their technologies and business plans to judges from the venture capital firms with global reach – Partech International, Newbury Ventures, BlueRun Ventures, Walden International, and Intel Capital. In addition to cash prizes, visibility before potential funders is a major reward for participating teams.

"Intel Capital's mission is to spur innovation worldwide and to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive," said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital. "We are excited to see the high level of dedication and technology innovation demonstrated by the teams at this year's inaugural competition. It is important that educators shift their focus to an entrepreneurial culture that encourages technology commercialization, especially since growth of the Internet makes business opportunities more accessible to entrepreneurs around the globe."

The technology for Harmonic Devices was developed by Gianluca Piazza and
Philip Stephanou at the College of Engineering's Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center. Piazza is a recent Ph.D. graduate in electrical engineering and assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania; Stephanou is completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. The venture's management team also consists of electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate Justin Black and Berkeley MBA 2005 graduate Kenneth Miller.

The Harmonic Devices team also won the University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition in March and the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition in May of 2005.

For more information, please contact Ute Frey at the Haas School at frey@haas.berkeley.edu or at 510-642-0342, or go to the web site at http://www.entrepreneurshipchallenge.org/.