By UC Office of the President

Startup companies from the University of California are invited to compete for a total of $300,000 in award money during the first primeUC competition, part of President Janet Napolitano’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, it was announced today (Aug. 4).

In what is hoped will be the first of several such competitions designed to help the most promising UC-associated startups obtain seed funding, primeUC is collaborating with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC to give one $150,000 award and three $50,000 awards to companies with early-stage innovations related to therapeutics, consumer health, medical devices and diagnostics.

Selected companies in the life sciences field — all with founders or other members from any of UC’s 10 campuses or three national labs — will compete in a semifinal pitching round after applying online. Twenty applicants will then be chosen to participate in the final round on Dec. 2 at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus.

“The University of California, with its three national labs, is a huge but underappreciated engine for creating startups that act as a hub of innovation and new jobs,” said Regis Kelly, senior adviser to the UC president on innovation and entrepreneurship. “This competition will highlight the university’s phenomenal productivity and contributions to California’s economic growth and channel funding to creative entrepreneurs.”

“We’re priming entrepreneurs for success,” said Neena Kadaba, director of the primeUC program and director of industry alliances at UC’s QB3 Institute. “Seed funding is scarce for the tremendous number of startups coming out of the University of California. We created primeUC to introduce these young companies to the investment community. Even if finalists don’t win an award, they’ll get valuable exposure.”

Kadaba envisions primeUC as an annual platform to identify promising UC startups and expects that in future years the focus will include fields other than life sciences, with the final competition round alternating between southern and northern California.

To be eligible to enter this year’s primeUC, a startup must be developing a life science technology, have been founded by a UC faculty or staff member, or be managed or founded by a UC student, postdoctoral fellow or alumnus, and have raised less than $1 million in private funding.

Applications are due by Sept. 25.

Learn more about the primeUC program, review official rules and apply at

Learn more about President Napolitano’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology Commercialization Initiative.