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Last update:   2017 October 19 (tentative date for in-person presentation now set, – Thurs Nov 16th)




Since 2012, the $10,000 Bycast Award to Promote Entrepreneurship has supported undergraduate Engineering Physics student entrepreneurs as they work on building businesses, building prototypes, and supporting students devoting their own time and resources on their projects.  These awards may be used for equipment, materials, or services to develop the business, or to pay partial tuition for students wanting to work full-time on their project during a Co-Op work term.  The annual submission deadlines are typically at the end of October each year, so plan your applications accordingly.



Companies and efforts from previous award winners include: 




Recent News – 


Illusense Secures $1.6M Funding from SDTC   [sept 2016]

Iris Automation raises $1.5 million to help drones sense and avoid obstacles  [jan 2017]

The race to find the ‘holy grail’ of drone technology  [Iris Automation, sept 2016]

ReDeTec wants to make the 3d printing process less wasteful [jan 2017]





Application Details:

  1. Submission Deadline The submission deadline for proposals is tentatively  Sun Oct 29th, 2017.  Complete applications should be forwarded to the Lab Director for Engineering Physics (
  2. In-Person Presentation for Shortlisted Groups  –  Shortlisted Groups should be prepared to present in -person to the Award Committee, typically sometime in November.   A tentative date of Thurs Nov 16th, late afternoon to early evening here on UBC Campus.
  3. Eligibility Students must be current undergraduate Engineering Physics students.   The primary focus for the award are self-sponsored ENPH 459 project groups, to support their project work in 459 and through the summer between 4th and 5th year.   Proposals will also be accepted from self-sponsored student projects in 479, and from students enrolled in 480/481, with the potential for further project support.
  4. Focus on Market Research To be eligible for the award, the application must be aimed at developing a product or technology that has the potential to be commercialized.   Although there are similarities between this award application and the formal 459/479 proposals, these applications have a strong focus on a team’s market research and business plan.
  5. Proposal Information:   proposals eligible for the award should follow these additional requirements.  Applications missing some of the components (through lack of information or time) will still be considered for the award, but may be at a disadvantage compared to complete applications.
    1. Identify the proposal as eligible: On the cover page of the Application, clearly mark: “Submitted as an entry for the Bycast Award to Promote Entrepreneurship”
    2. Summary of the Business Plan  (max 10 pages).
      1. An estimate of the market opportunity.
      2. What is the “pain point” that you are addressing?
      3. What is your solution?
      4. What are the competitive alternatives?  How are you differentiated from competitors?
      5. What are your major technical risks?
      6. Is there a competitor you will displace or do you need to develop the market
      7. An  estimate of timeline to commercialization, including milestones.
    3. Budget and finance plan  (no page limit) Your application should include a budget for the project time in 459/479 as well as a budget estimate for time and costs to commercialization.  Include estimated time/costs of bringing your product to market (including salaries, rent, equipment, marketing etc.  – we understand these will be rough estimates).
    4. Market Research (no page limit) We strongly advocate profiling and interviewing potential customers to understand the customer’s need and response to your proposed product, and the likelihood of adoption.   This will likely be the most important components of the application. You should include the following details:
      1. What is your market?  Who will buy your product and why?
      2. Estimated market size
      3. Estimated market penetration over four years
      4. Expected sales channel (sales force, internet, retail, distributor etc..)
  6. Selection Process.   The applications will be circulated to the Selection Committee, who will provide an assessment of the project.   Groups meeting the award criteria will be contacted for an in-person presentation with the Selection Committee.   Selection will be based on the scope of the project and its potential market applicability, and the quality of the written proposal and in-person presentations.   Successful applicants will be contacted by the Selection Committee.  Groups should expect to hear back within 4 weeks of their submission.




Is there only one award, or are there multiple $10k awards?

There is a total of $10,000 available for funding student projects, which may be split over multiple projects, or not awarded at all in any given year.  The Selection Committee will review the applications and decide on an appropriate amount for any deserving applications.

How much can I can I ask for in the application?

Groups should submit a budget based on their 459/479 spending and expenses towards commercialization.  The Selection Committee will use this budget to decide on an award value; applicants do not specify a desired amount on their applications.

Is the award given to an individual or to a team?  Does it show up on our transcript?

The award is awarded to all applicants, as individuals or team members, but is not recorded on your official transcript.


How does the money get transferred to the group?  Can I use the money right away for my 459/479 project?

The money will be transferred to an account which is accessible by the Project Lab Director.   In general, the Project Lab Director will make purchases and pay for expenses and services on behalf of the team using those funds.   In some cases, purchases made by team members on their own may be reimbursed by a cheque made out to the student.   Money can be used immediately in the project even during the term, but all labwork and reports should properly document all uses of funds to support the project (see below: “Will this award affect my grade in 459/479”)

When can I use the money for tuition?   Do I need to work a certain number of hours to access the money for tuition?

You may be able to use the funds for tuition at the discretion of the Selection Committee. Arrangements and decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

What if my group disagrees on how to spend the money?  Should one person in the group be designated as the team lead to decide on money?

There should be one Team Lead identified on the application to be responsible for use of funds.  The Project Lab Director will review proposed expenses and reimbursements. Questions regarding use of funds should be directed to the Project Lab Director.

Will this award affect my grade in 459/479?  Do I automatically get a higher grade because of it?

No.  Care will be taken to ensure that academic standing will be based on student contributions to the project.   This is in line with existing projects with different Project Sponsors and different levels of external support – students are expected to document all sources of external support to their project and to describe their own contributions to the project for proper assessment  (e.g. problem analysis, design, fabrication and testing. )

Is there a time limit for using the money?

Yes.  Nominally teams have 1 year to spend their allocated money, unless a case can be presented to the Selection Committee.   In addition, teams may only spend money while the students are officially undergraduate students in Engineering Physics.  Graduation or leaving the university closes access to the funds.


Can I apply for the award on a project I’ve worked on during a previous 459/479 project, and which I plan to continue?

Yes.   Your application must be clear about how you will use the additional funding to continue on with the project outside of 459/479 and towards commercialization.

Can I apply for the award on a project which isn’t entirely self-sponsored?  (I have co-sponsors in industry, but I’ve been given a greater leadership role in the project).

Awards will only be made to student projects with entrepreneurial potential. It is unlikely, given intellectual property restrictions, that any industry-sponsored projects will fall in this category.   If in doubt, contact the Project Lab Director for further clarification.

Can I apply for the award for a new project idea, but one which I don’t plan on using for 459 or 479?    Can I apply to work on the award as a 480/481 project?

No, there must be some connection with 459/479 for your project to qualify for this funding, whether in the current or future courses.     Applications can be submitted by students already project ideas approved for 480 or 481.  The same application guidelines must be met for these applications.



Award Guidelines

Objective: The objective of the UBC Eng Phys Award to Promote Entrepreneurship is to encourage entrepreneurship amongst Eng Phys students by providing access to funds that will be used to support selected student projects in one of the Senior Engineering Physics Project Courses

  1. A maximum of $10k per year may be awarded per academic year.  This will be derived from an annual gift of $5000 from Bycast Inc. and an additional $5000 in matching funds contributed by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UBC.  This sum may be distributed to one or more project teams in any given year.  The first award(s) will be made available in the 2012/13 academic year and every academic year thereafter.
  2. A selection committee will convene to disburse the award.  The committee will consist of appropriate personnel in the Engineering Physics Program of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Moe Kermani a successful entrepreneur and graduate of Physics.  Other individuals may be invited to join the Committee as needed.
  3. Except as provided in item 4, funds are to be used for the purchase of equipment and/or services required for the project
  4. If the potential market impact of the project can be significantly enhanced by continued work on the project in the summer months immediately following the academic year,  a maximum of $5,000 may be put toward a designated team member’s tuition fees for the subsequent academic year. That team member would be required to work full-time on the project during the summer months. This is meant to reduce the financial burden on the student who is willing to work on the project full time so as to move the project forward.  The Committee would make this determination during the current year and set aside the requisite funds from the current year’s allotment.
  5. Project teams seeking the award are required to present their project and provide an assessment of its potential market applicability.
  6. Selection criteria will be based on the scope of the project and its potential market applicability.  The intent here is to encourage students to think about potential market applicability.  During the adjudication process, the selection committee will ensure there is a balance such that market applicability will be one of, but not “the” primary selection criteria
  7. Funds will not be awarded in years when no projects meet the selection criteria.  If so, these funds will be carried forward to the next academic year and disbursed accordingly.