Aurora BioFuels, an alternative energy company based on technology developed by microbial biology professor and hydrogen fuel pioneer Tasios Melis, won both first prize and the People's Choice Award in the eighth annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, held on April 27 at the Haas School of Business.
The Haas-CNR team has developed a way to create bio-diesel fuel with yields that are 125 times higher and have 50 percent lower costs than current production methods. In addition to Melis, the team includes full-time Berkeley MBA 06 students Matt Caspari and Guido Radaelli; and Bert Vick, a Ph.D. student in molecular and cell biology. The three students met this fall in an Opportunity Recognition class taught by Andrew Isaacs, executive director of the interdisciplinary UC Berkeley Management of Technology (MOT) program.
The teams were judged in three rounds by a group of leading venture capitalists who volunteered their time to the competition. This was the first year in which the $25,000 first prize-winner was also selected by voting audience members as the "people's choice."
The UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition is organized by Berkeley MBA students at the Haas School. It is hosted by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in partnership with UC Berkeley's College of Engineering and School of Information, and the UC San Francisco Innovation Accelerator.