Asun Oka, Dupeng Liu Place at Berkeley Lab Pitch Competition

ABPDU senior process engineers Asun Oka and Dupeng Liu won 2nd and 3rd Place at the 2023 Berkeley Lab Pitch Competition on Nov. 3.

The event, co-hosted by the Lab’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School, was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get feedback from the four judges who hailed from the venture capital community: Darek Defreece, founder of the Berkeley Space Center at NASA Ames; David Fleck, founder of Freeflow Ventures; Sheeraz Haji, Managing Partner at ZipDragon and co-director of the Cleantech to Market program; and Laura Smoliar, founding partner at the Berkeley Catalyst Fund.

Each of the contestants gave 10-minute presentations on their elevator pitch, their market position, the customer and competitive landscape, and financial considerations. The presentations were followed by a 5-minute Q&A with the judging panel.

The winners of the event were:

  • First place: Nate Weger, affiliate and former PhD student at Energy Technologies Area’s Thermal Energy Group. Presentation title: “Calectra: Electrifying Industrial Heat”
  • Second place: Asun Oka, senior process engineer at the Biosciences Area’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU). Presentation title: “ReactorX: High-throughput Pressure Reactor”
  • Third place: Dupeng Liu, senior process engineer at ABPDU. Presentation title: “REEscovery: Eco-efficient Recovery of Rare Earth Elements”

Each winner will receive funding for market discovery time.