This year’s winners are:
1st – Tetra-C
2nd – Popsy
New Venture Prize – AnyCase
Read more about their projects, and the projects of the other finalists, below.
Welcome to the competition page for the 2023 Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs Final Round which was held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023!
This is the space for you to:
Veronica Pellegrino, UCLA Accelerator 2022
Drew Evarts, UCLA Anderson 2024
Katherine Meek, UCLA Law 2023
With the need for registered nurses the highest it has ever been, there has never been a greater need for products and technology designed to keep nurses safe, healthy, and protected. In the United States, the highest rate of injury in RNs stems from repetitive motion hazards, which is a prime example of the pill opening process. In healthcare systems, when a patient requires medication in pill form, all pills are packaged in cumbersome airtight plastic and foil packaging. Nurses use their own nails, scissors, or pens to open as many as 150 pills a shift. This leads to workplace injury, contamination, medication spills, and time-consuming practices that take excess time from the nurse and the patient.
The solution is an ergonomic tool that makes this process easy, comfortable, and safe for the RN, as well as sanitary for the patient. Popsy is a healthcare device company, founded by a nurse, with the nurse in mind. It has identified a gap in the market for a pill-dispensing product and is well positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. Popsy has designed a one-of-a-kind, patent-pending, pill opening and dispensing device to enable and protect the healthcare worker. The product consists of a portable, thimble style-cutting tool that consists of an inner finger worn piece, and an outer sleeve that the finger piece clicks into. The device can be worn on a lanyard, keychain, or stored in a pocket. Popsy’s device is developed to be a portable, lanyard attachable, and easy to sanitize pill-opening tool. Although pill ejectors and pill openers exist, no product currently exists on the market that matches all the criteria nurses require to open pills at the bedside and keep their patients safe.
Patricia McNeil, UCLA Engineering 2023
Richard Spronz, UCLA Law 2023
Soumayajit Sarkar, UCLA Anderson 2025
We make a transparent insulation coating for energy efficient windows, which impacts cold climates where energy loss through HVAC systems can be as high as 40%. Many existing homes and businesses in the United States still have inefficient single-pane windows. Upgrading windows to double-pane is cost prohibitive, especially impacting low-income communities. Coating technologies provide an affordable solution, and our material meets a demand to insulate in cold climates and improves occupant comfort. By consuming less electricity, natural gas, and/or heating oil to warm a building, our coatings could help avoid greenhouse emissions associated with producing and using these energy sources.
Sol-gel Solution founder collaborated with a team at UCLA to develop ambigels, a type of aerogel material produced via an ambient drying process, which represents a significant breakthrough in the field of material science. Aerogels are renowned for their exceptional insulating properties, but their production has traditionally been limited by challenges in scalability due to a batch-type process in a pressurized chamber. Ambient drying is often prone to cracking and warping, but the team at UCLA has overcome this hurdle and opened new possibilities for the use of aerogels in a range of applications. The innovation proposed here is the repeatability of obtaining crack free product, which meets residential window applications.
Sol-gel Solution’s focus on revolutionizing the ambigel process enables commercialization and deployment at scale, making aerogel materials more accessible to a range of industries and applications. Our ambigel technology represents a significant achievement in material science and a critical step towards creating a more sustainable future. As the market for energy-efficient products continues to grow, the demand for innovative and scalable materials like ambigels is only set to increase, creating exciting opportunities for the team at Sol-gel Solution.
Thank you to those who made this competition possible!
UCLA School of Law and the Lowell Milken Institute offer their thanks to Lowell Milken, the Milken Family Foundation, Richard Sandler and the Richard Sandler Family Foundation for their vision and support.
Lowell Milken Institute thanks Dean Russell Korobkin for his leadership and support of the Business Law Program and this competition.
Final Round Judges:
Executive Director, Cleantech Open; Venture Partner and Co-Founder Fund II, Canyon
Creek Capital; Founder, Toluca Media LLC
Principal, Bonfire Ventures; Kauffman Fellow (Class ’26)
Managing Director, Act One Ventures
First Round Judges:
Elaine Hagan (UCLA M.B.A. 1991)
Keenan Behrle, UCLA J.D. ’70
Justin Brownstone, UCLA J.D. ’09
Tony Chan, UCLA J.D. ’19
Eugene Chong, UCLA J.D. ’07
Shauna France, UCLA J.D. ’09
Chance Goldberg, UCLA B.A. ’09
|Mark Kapczynski, UCLA B.A. ’93
Nick Lum, UCLA J.D. ’07
Elaine Park, UCLA J.D. ’21
Brian Ross, UCLA B.A. ’93 & J.D.’97
Ashley Sykora, UCLA J.D. ’21