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Big Changes as Big Bang! Contest Marks 10th Anniversary

October 14, 2009

Big Bang! is getting bigger, and more Sacramento-area business students have been invited to join the annual business plan competition run by MBA students of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

For the first time, contest organizers have decided to welcome top teams from the Sacramento State College of Business Administration and the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy to vie for $33,000 in prizes awarded to finalists and winners of Big Bang!

A companion competition, known as Little Bang! and aimed largely at UC Davis science and engineering students, also will be recast and incorporated into Big Bang! This year’s competition opened today and will culminate with the 10th annual Big Bang! finals on May 20.

The changes, inspired by the 10th anniversary of Big Bang! and the business school’s recent move into the new Gallagher Hall, are designed to expand the contest’s reach into the greater Sacramento business community as well as the campus’s science and engineering ranks.

“It’s being retooled to encourage participation from a wider range of individuals and teams,” said Julia Barg, a UC Davis MBA student and co-chair of this year’s Big Bang! organizing committee.

“We’re going to give teams more tools than ever before, not only through workshop opportunities, but also by providing examples of what we’re looking for, which we’ve always shied away from in the past because we wanted to allow creativity.”

The Big Bang! competition, founded in 2000 by students at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, is designed to inspire and reward innovation and entrepreneurship. Previous winners and finalists have gone on to form companies such as VinPerfect, Bloo Solar, SialoGen, Ensembles, Ultra V and VisualCalc.

Traditionally Big Bang! has been limited to students, graduates or others affiliated with UC Davis. Sacramento State holds a separate business plan competition that wraps up in November.

In addition to opening up Big Bang! to more contestants, the organizing committee has established new partnerships with the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy and Sacramento State that will allow students and teams from UC Davis, Sacramento State and the SEA to participate in each others’ educational events.

“With Big Bang! we’ve done a lot of amazing things,” said MBA student Sam Wainer, another coordinator of this year’s contest. “We’ve had over 200 business plans submitted, raised over $160,000 in prize money and exposed over 800 aspiring entrepreneurs to the experience of developing and pitching a business venture. In honor of that, we want to make deeper inroads into the Sacramento region and we’re doing that through these two partnerships.”

The Big Bang! competition accomplishes two core objectives for the Graduate School of Management, Dean Steven Currall said.

“First, it provides an extraordinary learning opportunity for our MBA students to work with others inside the school and in the business community to develop creative projects that have true commercial potential. Second, it serves a vital role in outreach efforts to the business community by showcasing innovations developed at UC Davis and involving business leaders as judges, coaches and mentors to entrepreneurs.”

Sacramento State professor of entrepreneurship Seung Bach welcomed the new partnership, which he said will bring together “complementary assets and capabilities.

“This is a thrilling new opportunity for cooperation for all of us,” he said.

And, should a Sacramento State entry win the $15,000 top prize?

“If a Sac State team wins,” said Barg, “we’re hoping it’s viewed by the UC Davis community as a challenge and encourages more people from here to participate.”

The Big Bang! kickoff, with speakers from the region’s business community, will start at 7 p.m. tonight in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, AGR Room, at UC Davis. This also will be the first formal Big Bang! networking event of the year, providing an opportunity to start sharing ideas and forming teams.

About the Graduate School of Management

Established in 1981, the Graduate School of Management has enjoyed national prominence for more than a decade. It has been ranked among the top 50 public and private business schools by U.S. News & World Report for the past 14 years. It moved up to 40th place in the magazine’s latest survey.

The school has 120 students enrolled in a Daytime MBA program at Gallagher Hall and more than 450 Working Professional students at campuses in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu

For more information about Big Bang!, visit http://bigbang.gsm.ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science — and advanced degrees from six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. 

Media contact(s):

  • Tim Akin, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-7362, tmakin@ucdavis.edu (cell (916) 402-9270)
  • News Service, (530) 752-1930

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