In an exciting development for the AI Innovation Challenge, the UCI ANTrepreneur Center is proud to announce its new technology sponsor the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences (ICS) at UCI. This collaboration heralds a significant advancement for the challenge, which has engaged 85 dynamic teams all competing for over $50,000 in prizes across three diverse tracks: AI and Health Impact, AI and Student Experience, and AI in Storytelling and Entertainment.

The heart of this new sponsorship lies in the unique opportunity it presents to AI Innovation Challenge participants, helping them take their ideas to the next level, giving them access to a technical team. The ICS Capstone classes, where students form teams and work on projects, are renowned for their blend of academic rigor and practical application. This technology sponsorship helps create a direct channel for AI Innovation Challenge participants to apply to have a team provide technical support for their ideas. Additionally, student teams can use their AI Innovation Challenge semi finals 5 pitch video as their video submission for their application. 

This partnership transcends mere sponsorship; it’s about aligning inventive concepts with the technical expertise of ICS student groups. All AI Innovation Challenge participants will have the ability to apply for tech support from ICS Capstone classes. It’s essential to understand that all applications undergo a review process, and selection is not guaranteed. While many teams might be new to the Capstone concept and its workings, this initiative aims to not only provide immediate opportunities for upcoming Capstone call for applications, but also to increase awareness about the Capstone program among students. If teams are not ready now, they can still apply for the technical support in the future when they are ready and further along with their ideas. 

As Ryan Foland, Director of the ANTrepreneur Center, puts it:

“What’s so great about this collaboration is it’s helping students move forward with their ideas, regardless of their performance in the challenge. These innovation challenges are about starting, not just winning. The support of a technical team to work on student ideas, irrespective of competition results, is truly exciting and aligns with our goal of supporting the maximum number of students.”

ICS’s sponsorship of the AI Innovation Challenge is just the latest development in the longstanding collaboration between the ANTrepreneur Center and ICS. This relationship has been a fertile ground for nurturing UCI student startups. By integrating with the 10- and 20-week Capstone courses, numerous startups have already reaped the benefits of this partnership. The latest initiative of integrating technology sponsorship into the AI Innovation Challenge marks a new chapter in this collaborative journey, ensuring that even the most non-technical students can bring their innovative ideas to life with the help of a dedicated technical team. This initiative encourages broader participation from the campus and also ensures that every innovative idea, regardless of its technical depth, has the potential to be realized.

The Capstone projects at ICS represent the pinnacle of hands-on, practical learning, where students tackle real-world challenges in cutting-edge fields like AI, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. Hadar Ziv, Associate Professor and ICS Director of Capstone Programs, emphasizes the synergy between the challenge and the Capstone projects, saying,

“We recognize the effort that AI Innovation Challenge teams put into building their ideas, and we are excited to tap into the skill sets of UCI students to help continue these ideas beyond the competition. While some teams might be at an early stage for a Capstone, raising awareness about the program provides long-term value, preparing them for future technical support.”

For AI Innovation Challenge teams who want to learn more about ICS Capstone projects visit here, and for teams that are ready to submit a their ideas as project proposals for ICS Capstone projects visit here.

In addition to ICS, the AI Innovation Challenge is backed by a host of esteemed sponsors and partners, including UCI offices and divisions, along with prominent technology companies like Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Amazon Web Services. Community sponsors like Tech Coast Angels and the OC Startup Council also play a crucial role in providing additional support and resources.

The public is invited to witness the culmination of these efforts at the AI Innovation Challenge Grand Finale, on January 12th from 4pm-8pm, where 15 teams will compete for substantial prizes. Hosted at UCI Beall Applied Innovation, this exciting event offers an excellent opportunity to see the innovative potential of UCI students in action. This event is open to the public and community guests can RSVP here

For more information about the UCI ANTrepreneur Center, including programming, speaker series, Micro-Internships, funding, and more, visit our website. You can also learn more about our valuable collaborations with Blackstone LaunchPadTech Coast AngelsTech Coast Venture NetworkOC Startup CouncilSoCal Celebrates Entrepreneurship, the Hub @ UCI, and follow us on  InstagramLinkedIn, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and even Threads