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Critwalls team wins first place in UCI's 2011 Business Plan Competition

The final round of the seven-month contest took place Friday, awarding more than $30,000 in total prizes.

By Caitlin AdamsPublished: May 24, 2011 02:52 PM

The CritWalls team took home $15,000 on Friday after winning first place in UC Irvine's Paul Merage School's 2011 Business Plan Competition.

A total of 15 groups vied for more than $30,000 in prizes during the final round of the competition, which is touted as one of the premier events of its kind in the U.S. The seven-month contest gives UCI students, staff and researchers the opportunity to form a team, create a plan and potentially fund their business idea.

This year’s competition began in November, when 40 teams entered the field, only to be whittled down to 15 semifinalist groups in February. The semifinalists presented their formal business plans in April and an "elevator pitch" video in early May.

An online people’s choice component of the contest allowed the public to weigh in on the competition and vote for the elevator pitch video from the team they found to be most appealing. The voting was open from May 9 until May 19.

The first-place team, Josh Wu and Johnny Liao, put together a business plan for a company called CritWalls, an online design and collaboration network. The software allows users to create virtual walls to collaborate on projects. The CritWalls team won $15,000 for their overall work in the competition.

Food N’ Me, an interactive health, nutrition and lifestyle company for children and families, is the brainchild of Frederic De Wulf, Marta De Wulf and Douglas Hawes. Food N’ Me took second place, winning $7,500.

Arlene Doria, Mindy Simon and Nick Martin are a few of the minds behind KeenCAT Technologies, a medical diagnostics point-of-care start-up. KeenCAT was awarded $2,500 for its innovative approach to medical care.

Pinnacle Therapeutics is an Irvine-based medical device company founded in 2010; the team, comprised of Ed Wu and Lawrence Kim, won the People’s Choice Award with 473 votes and received $1,500.

In the undergraduate awards division, Spawnd, a computer-gaming start-up that converts virtual points to real money that is then donated to a charity of the user's choice, was awarded first place and $2,500; and SphereView Corp. earned second place and $1,500, with its concept of bringing security surveillance to smartphones and handheld touch-screen devices.

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