Slug Tank is UC Santa Cruz’s very own student business pitching contest. Sponsored by CIED (Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development), the event attracted 10 innovative teams competing to win a grand prize of $3000 to kickstart their venture. Additionally, Slug Tank invited 5 industry titans - Toby Corey, Chrissy Meyer, Monica Gutierrez-Lopez, Drew Meyer, and Doug Erickson - as judges. Sponsor organizations included Looker, Santa Cruz Works, Head Heart & Hands, and Big Ideas Contest were also present for recruiting and networking with students.

On a lovely Thursday night, Slug Tank drew a crowd of 100 students and community members. After an exciting pitch round that saw a wide variety of exciting ideas ranging from biotech to airline startups, 3 teams came up on top.

Most Innovative Award Winner: P.E.T.E.R P.E.T.E.R. is a PET-Eating Robot shaped like a sea turtle. The “robot” is generous: the current design lacks any programming or higher functions. Inside of P.E.T.E.R., however, is a housing chamber for the bacteria Ideonella Sakaiensis 201-F6 and four mastication chambers that the housing chamber leads into. The shell is designed to accumulate and store heat, which keeps the bacteria working at an optimal temperature. The material of the robot is entirely biodegradable and maintains a level pH balance due to its inner lining. Because it’s biodegradable, the approximate time P.E.T.E.R. can last in open waters is limited. However, improvements to the design are being made every day.

P.E.T.E.R. is a PET-Eating Robot shaped like a sea turtle. The “robot” is generous: the current design lacks any programming or higher functions. Inside of P.E.T.E.R., however, is a housing chamber for the bacteria Ideonella Sakaiensis 201-F6 and four mastication chambers that the housing chamber leads into. The shell is designed to accumulate and store heat, which keeps the bacteria working at an optimal temperature. The material of the robot is entirely biodegradable and maintains a level pH balance due to its inner lining. Because it’s biodegradable, the approximate time P.E.T.E.R. can last in open waters is limited. However, improvements to the design are being made every day.

P.E.T.E.R design

P.E.T.E.R.'s Creator, Gabriella Pleasant

Most Social Value Award Winner: GenZ Diagnostics: Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) has revolutionized the way medical diagnostics are performed today. Targeted sequencing of DNA or RNA has many current applications in research and diagnosis. However, reagent costs prohibit a more widespread adoption of this approach. GenZ Diagnostics team has developed a method to produce inexpensive reagents that will significantly reduce the overall cost of targeted sequencing. They are looking for an initial investment to deploy this approach for cancer gene sequencing.

Most Business-viable Award Winner: Autoponics: The Earth only has enough arable land to feed around 9.5 billion people. Combining automation and hydroponics technology, Autoponics is the necessary solution to sidestep Earth’s carrying capacity. Using a fully autonomous robotic hydroponics system, we can expand vertically and create a smarter way to sustain humanity in the future.

Brandon Mee-Lee's Autoponics

Thanks to everyone who came out and witnessed Slug Tank! A special thanks to our judges, all the teams who participated, and our sponsors. Slug Tank 2019 was a huge success, and SCEE plans to bring it back in the following year.