UC-Davis Launches New Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

by John A. Byrne on

The University of California, Davis, is launching a new interdisciplinary institute devoted to education, research and outreach in innovation and entrepreneurship, with the help of a $5 million commitment from alumni Mike and Renee Child.

The institute, named The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will help to integrate innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and actions across the university, and strengthen UC Davis’ role as a vital player in catalyzing economic development in the region, state and beyond.

“The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will help UC Davis assume a global leadership role in entrepreneurship and innovation, building on our already strong foundation in these areas,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi in a statement. “We are grateful to the Childs for making this possible.”

The institute, which launches today, builds on the success and experience of the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, which since 2006 has helped researchers and students move their innovations and ideas into the marketplace. The center’s founding director, Professor Andrew Hargadon, is now serving as the institute’s faculty director.

Over the past five years, the center had a significant impact regionally, across the country, and across continents. Alumni of the center have launched more than 45 companies in areas ranging from medical diagnostics to solar power to biodegrable plastics. The center’s programs have helped more than 650 graduate students, postdocs and faculty researchers explore the commercial applications of their ideas and connect them with business investors and industry careers.

“UC Davis is committed to improving society by bringing breakthrough technologies out of the university and into the world and by preparing our students to be entrepreneurial leaders, regardless of their academic field,” said Steven Currall, the dean of the Graduate School of Management, which will house the new interdisciplinary institute.

The institute will strengthen the coordination of entrepreneurship and innovation activities across UC Davis’ colleges, schools, centers and organized research units, becoming the university’s unifying structure for these pursuits.

For example, the institute will help facilitate such current UC Davis initiatives as: the Biotechnology Program in the Office of Research, the College of Engineering’s Engineering Translational Technology Center, the Science and Technology Studies Program in the College of Letters and Science, and the Center for Science and Innovation Studies, among others.

“UC Davis is home to an amazing array of expertise across disciplines. This institute will help our faculty and students translate their knowledge and skills into ventures that improve society and add value to the economy,” said Hargadon, who is a professor of technology management at the Graduate School of Management and holds the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship.

Over the past five years, the center had a significant impact locally, across the country, and across continents. Our alumni have launched more than 45 companies in areas ranging from medical diagnostics to solar power to biodegrable plastics. We have helped over 650 graduate students, postdocs and faculty researchers explore the commercial applications of their ideas and connect them with business investors and industry careers.

The institute will develop and demonstrate the commercial potential of UC Davis research in science, engineering and medical fields where UC Davis is already a recognized leader and is engaged with industry and policy partners. These areas include the work of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; the Energy Efficiency Center; the Clinical and Translational Science Center; the Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology; and the Institute for Transportation Studies, among others. The institute will also foster innovation and entrepreneurship for students in the humanities and social sciences.

Specifically, the institute will:

– Integrate innovation and entrepreneurship courses alongside and within existing academic degree programs.

– Promote the study of innovation and entrepreneurship by management, social science, humanities and legal researchers across the university.

– Support the MBA-student-run Big Bang! Business Plan Competition.

– Expand UC Davis’ pioneering and nationally recognized business development certificate programs and entrepreneurship academies for faculty, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in the life sciences and engineering and for graduate students in business designed to help move ideas from lab to market.

– Develop opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for undergraduate students across the university, including those in social sciences and humanities.

– Further programs to build networks that connect campus entrepreneurs with mentors and investors to accelerate commercialization

– Reach out to business and government to inform the adoption of innovative technologies.

The Childs’ $5 million commitment will be invested in an endowment, ensuring ongoing financial support for the institute and its important work into the future.

Mike Child graduated from UC Davis in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Renee Child also graduated from UC Davis in 1976, with degrees in psychology and German. One of their daughters is a UC Davis student, and the other is a recent UC Davis graduate. The couple lives in Atherton, Calif.

In addition to serving as a trustee on the UC Davis Foundation board, Mike Child is also a member of the Campaign Cabinet, a group of volunteer leaders that is guiding the university during its first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Renee Child is a member of the College of Letters and Science’s Deans’ Advisory Council, a volunteer group that advocates for and advises the college.

 

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