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On their Way to Riverside

Winners of Entrepreneurial Training in Chile

In October 2020 The Office of Technology Partnerships’ (OTP) at UC Riverside (UCR) concluded the second edition of the entrepreneurial program Know Hub Ignition, a 10-week intensive training program delivered to Chilean entrepreneurs in partnership with Know Hub Chile, a technology transfer hub funded by the Chilean government agency CORFO. 

In the 2020 Know Hub Ignition, the OTP team trained 54 entrepreneurs, which made up 14 teams.  Females led 42% and 50% of the participating and winning teams respectively, which achieved an important goal of the program.  Additionally 50% of participating teams were from traditionally unrepresented regions of Chile, extending access to entrepreneurial education in the country.

The OTP team provided over 200 hours of class, mentoring and accompaniment to the teams in a program that was highly rated by participants and Know Hub Chile.  The program culminated with a large celebratory event where the 14 teams presented final pitches in front of a panel of investors, academia and industry.  The final ceremony was attended by over 150 individuals and included presentations from the Ministry of Science of Chile, Rosibel Ochoa from OTP who led the program, and CORFO among others. 

Four winners were selected to move on to the next phase of the program, a one-week immersion in Riverside to take place in 2021.  Some of these teams have the potential to be incubated in Riverside in the future.  The winning teams’ technologies are:

  • PHOTIO, A nanotechnology paint additive that reduces greenhouse gases by 18 kg per square meter/year when applied to a surface
  • GCKEY, A biological vault (DNA-based physical barrier) for encryption keys to provide advanced data security
  • MOV, A sonar headband that facilitates handsfree spatial orientation for individuals with visual impairment
  • ECOFUELS, A scalable unit that transforms plastic waste into diesel fuel

The winning teams will continue to work with a UCR expert mentor to help advance their commercialization efforts by conducting further customer discovery, exploring potential partnerships in the United States and pursuing funding opportunities with the goal of preparing the teams for incubation in Riverside. 

Following the Know Hub Ignition program, one of the winning teams, the developers of the Ecofuels technology went on to secure a place as finalists at the International Everis Foundation Awards representing Chile.  “Thanks to the UCR program with Know Hub Ignition we were able to reconceive our start-up with a focus on the client, and hence the business aspect.  Up until then we had a strong academic focus and the mentoring and valuable feedback opened our eyes to the fact that we needed to validate the market need and better understand the client requirements” stated Ariel Crespo, CEO for the company.  “The program gave us a clear and certain perspective when defending our start-up in the Everis Awards competition at the national and international level” added Mr. Crespo. 

The Ecofuels team hasn’t stayed still, they were also recently awarded the “Felipe Álvarez award at the Universidad de Chile.  “Thank you to UCR and the wonderful team of people that dedicated, and continue to dedicate their time to see us grow” said Jose Duguet, Product Development Lead for the company.  

For more information about the international entrepreneurship and technology transfer work of the Office of Technology Partnerships contact Alexandra Orozco alexandra.orozco@ucr.edu.

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