Engineering Nabs Top Honors in the 2009 Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business

Team ZeroWatt sweeps first place and “best concept paper” for advancing technology that redefines low power electronics

Interested in extending your cell phone battery life by hours?  UC Irvine’s Team ZeroWatt, comprised of Payam Heydari, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Fred Tzeng and Vipul Jain, Ph.D. students in Heydari’s Nanoscale Communication IC (NCIC) Laboratory, Howard Ko, an M.B.A. student, and Thomas Pearson, a Merage School M.B.A. alumnus, aim to do just that using their advanced technology for low power analog to digital converters.

Their patent-pending technology delivers extremely low power data converter integrated circuits to extend battery life, enhance functionality, decrease size, and lower costs of portable electronics.

Winning the first place, the best concept paper, and $15,000 in the 2009 Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business, ZeroWatt Technologies, coached by engineering’s Director of Research Development Goran Matijasevic, Ph.D., M.B.A., is a fabless semiconductor company proposing advanced technology in their business plan that can reduce power up to a factor of 10 compared to existing solutions used in wireless devices, while lowering product cost by half.

Potential applications include cell phones, laptops, medical equipment, sensors, and medical implants.

Heydari and Tzeng, the co-founders of the newly launched ZeroWatt Technologies, are currently pursuing product development with this advanced technology. 

Engineering students, faculty, and scholars were also represented in other top business plan competition awards:

2nd Place
Team Diamas
Engineering participants - Gobind Bisht and Robert (Robin) Gorkin, biomedical engineering graduate students
Proposed product - Diamond coating for surgical instruments
Prize - $7,500

3rd Place
Engineering participants - Arthur Zhang, a postdoctoral research scholar, and Jonas Tsai, an undergraduate engineering student
Proposed product - Wristband for vital sign monitoring   
Prize - $2,500

People’s Choice
Team Kadho
Engineering participants – Dhonam Pemba, a biomedical engineering graduate student, Kaveh Azartash and Molly Rossow, biomedical engineering graduate students, and Jennifer Tao Fang Yuan, a biomedical engineering undergraduate student
Proposed product - Educational toy for English as a second language training   
Prize - $1,000 + $500 (awarded for most votes and most views on

Undergraduate Competition - 1st Place and Best Concept Paper, Undergraduate Division
Team Happy Sleep
Engineering participants – Praveen De Silva and Kevin Hung, mechanical and materials science engineering undergraduate students
Proposed product - Bluetooth wristband alarm  
Prize - $3,500

The 2009 Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business, sponsored by Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth Attorneys at Law, is one of the nation's premier business plan competitions offered to all UC Irvine students, staff and researchers, providing an opportunity to form a team, create a business plan and potentially fund innovative business ideas, all within seven months.

Business planning software and interactive workshops that detailed how to research, write, and pitch business ideas were available throughout the process, and cash prizes totaling $30,000 were awarded to winning participants.

First place winner Team ZeroWatt is also one of 12 finalists in the Fast Pitch Competition to be held on June 9, sponsored by Tech Coast Angels, which features entrepreneurs giving 90-second pitches to a panel of investors and additional members of Southern California's entrepreneurial community.

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