Pradyna Desh, chief executive officer of Advocat Technologies
Pradyna Desh, chief executive officer of Advocat Technologies, accepts the award from the Angels Conference. Courtesy of the company

University of San Diego’s School of Business recently announced the winners of its annual San Diego Angel Conference, which paired investors with early-stage startups seeking capital. Seattle-based Advocat Technologies took top honors, landing $200,000 in capital that will be used to develop artificial intelligence research and drafting products for large legal operations.

Another $300,000 was split among the runners-up. And they included San Diego-based ChargeNet Stations, developing the electric vehicle charging experience of the future; San Diego-based Digital Proteomics, working on machine learning to improve therapeutic antibody discovery; Redding-based Fluid Power AI, working on internet-of-things solutions to improve hydraulic systems; San Diego-based Hempress Hygienics, developing women’s hygiene products using hemp; San Diego-based UpLyft, working on the first FDA-compliant self-transfer system from bed to wheelchair for those with limited mobility; and San Marcos-based Verity,  developing sustainable packaging for the beauty and personal care industry.

According to a release, the conference received 125 applications for the 21 conference, with applicants coming from 15 states across 30 industries. Of that number, the seven were chosen to pitch investors.

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Low-income meal provider Mama’s Kitchen commemorates a milestone on March 31–the delivery of meal No. 10 million. The honor of delivering this meal goes to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who will give it to Skyline Hills resident and longtime Mama’s Kitchen client, Jimmy Go. Go is a retired respiratory therapist. The organization, which started out delivering food for those suffering from AIDS, is three decades old  Mama’s Kitchen said it delivers three meals daily, seven days a week, and provided 528,034 meals to 2,299 clients in fiscal year 2020.

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Avista Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm, has invested an undisclosed amount in eMolecules, a San Diego-based procurement platform for high-value chemicals and bio-reagents used in drug discovery. According to a press release, eMolecules is one of the major sources for the necessary synthetic building blocks. The release says the company has relationships with 14 top drug companies. Founded 16 years ago, eMolecules has offices in Boston and London, with 50 employees working at the three sites.

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North county news … The Oceanside City Council is moving ahead with plans to allow the sale of adult-only or recreational marijuana within the city. The proposal, first reported in The Coast News, said the March 24 decision would permit cannabis manufacturers, distributors and non-storefront, delivery-only dispensaries to set up shop. Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that marijuana business owners will pay $8,850 annual license renewals and other services under a fee schedule OK’d by the council. The newspaper also said that 22 licenses had been approved since legalizing medical marijuana sales in 2018.

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National esports provider Nerd Street Gamers has announced the opening of an esports facility in Oceanside. The official ceremonies will take place April 3. The facility, Localhost Oceanside, will serve gamers at all skill levels, and include competitions, bootcamps, training and hourly play in a wide variety of video games. A spokesman said Nerd Street intends to open it largest public esports facility in the West in Los Angeles later this year.

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Pathfinder Partners, a San Diego-based private equity firm specializing in apartments, said it has sold one of its investments, Avalon Apartments, for $23 million. The Avalon, a 117-unit property located in Phoenix, features 81 one-bedroom and 26 two-bedroom apartments.  The property was only 76% when it was acquired. Within four months, Pathfinder said it had stabilized operations, bringing occupancy above 90%. Pathfinder said its investments are concentrated in Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix and Denver.

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Finally, this item of note … The San Diego History Center this week released its “See Their Stories collection,” a community-sourced history of the Covid-19 crisis. When the pandemic struck, the center decided to focus on documenting the lives of impacted San Diegans, with many submitting their personal experiences through the center’s Share Your Story website. More than 3,000 people have died countywide due to the pandemic. But a spokeswoman said, “What the statistics fail to show is the love and impact that each one of these parents, spouses, siblings, and friends provided to their families and the community.”

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.

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