Student entrepreneurs from all over Orange County, who have developed business ideas that will make a difference to alleviate poverty, compete for funding and mentorship.   

Irvine, Calif., April. 24th, 2017. Nine semi-finalist entrepreneur teams from University of California Irvine and the wider Orange County community will compete on May 1, 2017 in the Designing Solutions for Poverty competition. Teams are pitching to win a $20,000 grant as well as mentoring and support from some of the country’s best entrepreneurial minds. Their goal? To innovate an idea or invention into a sustainable business that will make a real difference to alleviate poverty.

“The next generation of young entrepreneurs are not interested solely in the bottom line,” said Professor Richard A. Matthew, Director of the UCI Blum Center. “They also want to make the world a better place.”

On May 1, nine groups will present their projects to a panel of distinguished OC judges, including Preet Virk of Macom, Amanda Grant of the Living Peace Foundation, and Jay Connor of Learning Ovations.

The nine semi-finalists have business ideas that vary from a digital solutions, mobile applications, services, and community programs. All ideas have a focus on sustainability and the ability to help address issues that are poverty related.

  • Digital service providing free and low cost legal advice
  • A science app for teachers
  • A hands-free, leg-powered wheelchair
  • An affordable, point-of-care treatment for foot ulcers
  • A soccer program teaching life lessons
  • A lab on a chip
  • A multidimensional approach to energy in Brazil
  • Financial savings game
  • Collaboration model to provide clean drinking water in Kenya

The top three chosen will go on to a special awards function at UCI on May 4 where they will make another presentation to an audience that will include local business and community leaders and experienced entrepreneurs. Through the sponsorship of Paul and Dimple Dhillon, the 3rd annual Designing Solutions for Poverty competition has doubled the grant funding for the winning entry to up to $20,000. In addition, the winning team or individual may be mentored through UCI Applied Innovation and the ANTrepreneur Center.

“Orange County is a hub of entrepreneurial creativity,” said Professor Matthew. “Our aim is for this competition to show that you can create a successful for-profit company – and do good for the world at the same time.”

The Finalist Presentations and Reception is open to the public and on Thursday, May 4 from 5.30pm to 7.30 p.m. at the Porter Colloquia Room and Terrace at The Paul Merage School of Business.

Interested community members and business leaders may RSVP to Ellen Kern at

About UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation: The Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation is part of a larger consortium of Blum Centers (beginning with the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, established in 2006), across the University of California campuses. The Blum Centers operate on the idea that a world-class university must be a force for tackling the world’s most daunting challenge – poverty. The Center’s mission is to enable a new generation of students and researchers to ask and address critical questions about economic development that are key prerequisites to devising effective and innovative approaches to alleviating contemporary poverty both locally, in Orange County, and abroad. Learn more at

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

Ruth Gyllenhammer
UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation