Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) has begun to work more closely with Southern California’s Tech Coast Angels as part of an internal effort to promote an entrepreneurial culture at the San Diego wireless giant and to encourage employees to bring their ideas for innovations forward.
The company’s new focus on entrepreneurship and closer ties with Tech Coast Angels gained some visibility recently during the fourth annual “quick pitch” contest, which the angel investor group’s San Diego chapter convened at Qualcomm’s showcase auditorium, the 534-seat Irwin M. Jacobs Hall. While Qualcomm has hosted previous quick pitch events at other facilities, this was the first such event in the posh corporate auditorium, and “a big deal” for the telecommunications company, according to Ricardo dos Santos, a senior director of new business creation and innovation at Qualcomm Ventures.
When the San Diego Tech Coast Angels began organizing the 2010 quick pitch contest, they decided to accept applications from throughout Southern California, says Jeff Draa, who oversaw the event. “We opened up applications and got 130,” Draa says. “We got so many applications that I really had to solicit help from the TCA to give us a quick grade on the proposals.” Draa says members of the angels group winnowed the list to about 35 semi-finalists, and then 14 finalists who made the two-minute pitches to a panel of judges on October 7.
The finals of the quick pitch event drew a record audience of more than 400 people, including many Qualcomm employees who were encouraged by dos Santos to attend. Judges determined the winners based on the investment potential of their idea and presentation quality. The winners:
—Best Overall Pitch: Ritter Pharmaceuticals, a Los Angeles drug discovery and development startup focused on new therapeutic treatments for gastrointestinal diseases. Ritter has been developing a drug compound it says has the potential to become the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of lactose intolerance.