San Diego Business Journal

The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge kicks off 2012 with an elevator pitch competition scheduled for Jan. 11. Aydogan Ozcan, inventor of the cellphone microscope, will keynote the event, which features eight teams giving 120-second pitches for their new product ideas and services. Details at challenge.ucsd.edu ... Fowl play? The Animal Protection and Rescue League issued a release Jan. 1 saying it has convinced about 50 regional restaurants to stop serving foie gras, or fattened liver taken from ducks that have been force-fed, or shall we say, stuffed to the gills. The local group spent New Year’s Eve demonstrating at a couple of high-profile eateries in protest, and now the group says that 50 restaurants in San Diego have removed the controversial menu item in advance of the ban taking effect statewide on July 1 ... Happy anniversary! Jim Corcoran, proprietor of the El Cajon-based retail jewelry business Irish Charm, featuring unusual Celtic designs, recently relaunched his website, irishcharm.com, in anticipation of celebrating his 10th anniversary in business next month. The site’s an effort in large part of the creative undertaking of San Diego graphic arts and Web designer Arita Vernon. Corcoran attends dozens of street fairs and festivals each year around the state from his base here in San Diego County ... Nonprofits in the news. The Old Globe Theatre’s board of directors said it has hired theater executive search firm AlbertHall & Associates to find a replacement for Chief Executive Officer and Executive Producer Louis Spisto who stepped down as of Dec. 31 to pursue a career as an independent theatrical producer ... Hats off to seniors in the North County, so to speak. The San Diego Visual Arts Network is sponsoring a fashion show focusing on artist-made hats honoring the lives of nine elderly residents residing in Oceanside’s Fairwinds Ivey Ranch retirement community. The exhibition features framed photos of residents, each wearing a hat designed by an artist. The fashion show will be held Jan. 14; a reception is set for Feb. 23 at the retirement home. For details, browse on over to sdvan.net … Finally. Barbara Barrow becomes new executive director for The Southwest Regional Center of Canine Companions for Independence, succeeding Linda Valliant, who retired. Barrow, a former professional golfer on the women’s tour who later found her niche in the nonprofit arena, said she heard about the organization that provides service dogs for those with disabilities through best-selling writer Dean Koontz, who wrote “A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog.” It’s a true story about his relationship with a retired dog adopted from the center. He continues to be a big supporter of the nonprofit and its efforts to provide service dogs to those who need them. Till next week.

Contributing Editor Tom York pens the SDBJ Insider, and you can reach him with column tips and tidbits at tyork@

sdbj.com.