The ANTrepreneur Center at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) has secured leading technology sponsors for its upcoming AI Innovation Challenge. This challenge invites all UC Irvine students to develop innovations enabled by artificial intelligence. The Center has partnered with platforms like Alltius, Seimens, Soul Machines, Amazon Web Services (AWS), ZigZag, and Cake Equity to provide students with the tools necessary to bring their ideas to life, regardless of technical skill level.

These cutting-edge technologies will be accessible to students through The Hub, a new space located at the ANTrepreneur Center. The Hub, powered by UCI’s Office of Data and Information Technology, provides the UCI community with hands-on access to emerging tech tools and platforms. By leveraging The Hub’s resources, challenge participants can experiment and build with the latest AI innovations.

“The Hub is where we give our students access to cutting-edge technologies to learn and apply in solving real-world problems. The Hub is meant to complement what they are learning in the classroom and provide the opportunity to gain valuable experience that will prepare them for their careers,” said Tom Andriola, UCI Vice Chancellor and Chief Digital Officer.

As the world shifts gears to embrace the dynamism of artificial intelligence, so does UCI. AI is not just about algorithms or data; it’s about creating solutions that matter. Recognizing that every student, irrespective of their major, can contribute to this rapidly expanding field, UCI is taking action to level the playing field. The AI Innovation Challenge and the establishment of The Hub are clear testaments to this effort.

“The collaboration between The Hub and the AI Innovation Challenge ensures the ANTrepreneur Center remains the epicenter for UCI undergraduates to kickstart their entrepreneurial voyage,” explained Ryan Foland, Director of the ANTrepreneur Center. “We’re facilitating dreams and bringing them closer to reality.”

The AI Innovation Challenge aims to inspire UC Irvine’s undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty to develop thoughtful applications of AI technology. The challenge is open to all majors and skill levels, not just those with a computer science background. The challenge asks participants to form teams and conceptualize and prototype an AI-powered innovation that addresses a real-world problem.

To enable teams to experiment with AI without advanced coding skills, the Center has partnered with no-code AI platforms like Alltius. Alltius allows users to leverage state-of-the-art AI to build chatbots, analyze data, moderate content, and more without needing to write any code. This makes the power of AI accessible to a much broader range of students with diverse backgrounds. Participants can use Alltius to integrate AI into their innovations in an intuitive, visual interface.

Once teams have an idea, they need the ability to rapidly prototype and test it. Technology sponsor Siemens empowers challenge participants to build and iterate on prototypes quickly via its no-code development platform. With intuitive visual tools, students can bring their AI innovations to life and refine them based on user feedback. Mendix represents the future of agile software development, enabling speed and collaboration without coding.

Teams will also have the opportunity to experiment with conversational AI and human-like interfaces. Sponsor Soul Machines allows users to create photorealistic digital avatars powered by artificial intelligence, no coding required. Students can prototype AI assistants, tutors, healthcare guides, and more using Soul Machines’ studio-based platform. This technology opens up new possibilities for personable and engaging AI innovations. 

To build and launch AI-powered innovations, teams need access to cloud computing capabilities. Sponsor AWS provides challenge participants with AWS Promotional Credits to leverage services like machine learning, compute power, database storage, and more from the AWS cloud. With on-demand access to AWS’s industry-leading infrastructure, students can develop innovations without being hindered by technological limitations. The AWS platform enables teams to experiment at scale and deploy real-world AI applications. Cloud technologies are critical tools for bringing AI inventions to market, and AWS empowers participants to gain hands-on experience.

In addition to platforms to build and test with AI, students need a structured innovation process to develop viable ideas. ZigZag provides collaborative tools to support teams through the innovation lifecycle, from ideation to experimentation. Students can leverage ZigZag AI features to generate ideas, define hypotheses, build business models, and conduct iterative testing to refine their concepts. This gives structure to the innovation process and helps teams (especially those new to entrepreneurship) focus their efforts for maximum impact.

Another key aspect of developing an innovation is determining founder equity splits. Sponsor Cake Equity provides a platform for teams to have structured conversations about equity and create cap tables. With prize money on the line, the AI Innovation Challenge offers real stakes for participants to begin thinking about equity distributions. Cake Equity gives teams the ability to fairly divide company ownership based on each member’s contributions. Learning how to create cap tables and allocate equity is an invaluable experience for young entrepreneurs.

By providing access to these state-of-the-art tools, the UCI ANTrepreneur Center aims to spark AI innovation across disciplines. Participants will gain hands-on experience with emerging technologies while tackling real-world problems. Participants will have the opportunity to form teams, develop prototypes, receive feedback from experts, and have the chance to win prize money.

The AI Innovation Challenge kicks off with a Launch Party on October 16th at 5:00 pm at the UCI ANTrepreneur Center. Undergraduate and graduate students and faculty are encouraged to attend to learn more and start forming teams. Participants can register and find additional details on CampusGrpups.

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For more information about the UCI ANTrepreneur Center and how it can support your entrepreneurial journey, including programming, speaker series, micro-internships, funding, and more, visit our website. You can also learn more about our valuable collaborations, including Blackstone LaunchPad, Tech Coast Angels, Tech Coast Venture Network, OC Startup Council, SoCal Celebrates Entrepreneurship, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Threads.