UC biotech startups compete for funding

Biotech startups with ties to the University of California may be able to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in valuable seed funding this fall.

The university announced today that primeUC, the first of what is hoped to be a series of competitions, will make a total of $300,000 available to companies developing technology related to therapeutics, consumer health, medical devices or diagnostics.

One company will win a grand prize of $150,000 and three runner-up companies will win $50K, according to the office of UC President Janet Napolitano.

Startup companies in the life sciences field with founders or members from any of the 10 University of California campuses or three associated national laboratories – with less than $1 million in private funding – will be eligible to compete, according to the university.

“We’re priming entrepreneurs for success,” director of the primeUC program Neena Kadaba said in a statement. “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 startups and expects that in future years the focus will include other fields in addition to life sciences.

Applications for this year’s competition are due by Sept. 25. By Oct. 5, semi-finalists will be invited to one of the semi-finals pitching events at either UC Berkeley or UCLA. Twenty finalists will be notified on Oct. 28 that they have moved on to compete in the final round. That will take place Dec. 2 at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay Campus.