Priorities:University of California Davis Student Priorities
- 1 Strategic Priorities
Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship
Students who wish to engage with the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem both on and off-campus (or who simply wish to learn more about entrepreneurship) have a wide variety of resources available to them. Among these include student clubs, specific classes, on campus organizations, on campus events, supportive academic departments, and access to external organizations. There has been a growing administrative interest in student entrepreneurship with the passing of an Assembly Bill which created additional funding. Interdisciplinary collaboration is an ongoing effort though, as well as further encouraging true student-run efforts (which could be aided by the addition of more independent project opportunities for students, more opportunities to talk to individuals outside of one’s college, more bio lab training for STEM students, and more hands-on coding opportunities).
Clubs are a driving force for entrepreneurship on campus - unsurprising, as UC Davis currently fosters more than 800 student clubs. Notable examples of clubs on campus that encourage entrepreneurship include the Business Career and Networking Club, the Start-up Hub, Net Impact Davis, the Society for Women Engineers, Consult Your Community, the Davis Consulting Group, Design for America, and various business fraternities, to name just a few. Campus organizations also have a sizeable presence, with organizations such as the Student Academic Success Center, the California Aggie, Aggie Studios, the Internship and Career Center, the Center for Leadership Learning, the Undergraduate Research Center, and most notably, the Student Startup Center standing out from the crowd. The Student Startup Center is a particularly effective hub in this space - it’s one main entrepreneurial program is PLASMA, a program for undergraduate and graduate students alike to incubate their ideas. Many of these organizations on campus not only give students the chance to learn more about innovation and entrepreneurship, but provide them with an environment to apply their learning through hands-on projects - the inclusion of 3D printers for prototyping free of charge (courtesy of the Student Startup Center) has aided in such efforts. In addition to these on campus clubs and organizations, several classes geared towards entrepreneurship are offered at UC Davis - examples include Design Thinking for Food, Agribusiness Marketing Plan Development, Marketing for the Technology-Based Enterprise, and Financing New Business Ventures. UC Davis hosts several events as well that help stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit on campus: hackathons are held by clubs such as HackDavis, Information sessions on a wide variety of topics are given at the Memorial Union, and welcome events are set up to help integrate out-of-state and international students with the campus culture. Last year, the business school piloted an event called the “Aggie Innovation Symposium,” geared towards exposing students and other community/campus members to startups, innovation resources, and entrepreneurial activity in the Sacramento Region. Academic departments supportive of student entrepreneurship efforts include the Design Department, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science, and the department of Electrical Engineering, all of which have a number of professors currently engaged with various innovation and entrepreneurship ventures in some way.
Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship
Several faculty members at UC Davis are a part of the Davis Entrepreneurship Network (DEN for short) - a network formed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at UC Davis. As a cross-campus collaboration of UC Davis entities (and a network largely unknown to undergraduates), DEN serves as one of the primary channels of communication for faculty members interested in entrepreneurship. The Blum Center for Developing Economies, the Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, the Center for Science and Innovation Studies, CITRIS and the Banato Institute, the Clinical and Translational Science Center, the Energy Efficiency Center, the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Program for International Energy Technologies are all connected to DEN. Several makerspaces are available as well to help both students and faculty members looking to experiment with their ideas; among these are the Beta-Lab, BME TEAM Lab, and the MASTeR LabModLab. Finally, faculty members have been increasingly encouraged to interface with both students and other faculty members who are interested in supporting or creating entrepreneurial ventures and startups. Several competitions and funding programs exist to support this goal - among these include the Big Bang! Business Competition, the Blum Center for Developing Economies Grants, the CITRIS Tech for Social Good, Hack Davis, Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR) Grants, the PLASMA Accelerator, and Data, Informations & Application Launch (DIAL) Grants. The UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as UC Entrepreneurship Academy (both discussed below) also serve as highly valuable resources for faculty members looking to reach outside of their academic bubbles and pursue entrepreneurial projects while still remaining grounded in the UC Davis sphere.
Actively supporting the university technology transfer function
One of UC Davis’ primary missions is to benefit the public through research and education initiatives. While technology transfer can be accomplished in a variety of ways, the most notable entity on campus that deals with the technology transfer process is InnovationAccess, a branch of the Office of Research that provides a broad spectrum of services geared towards preserving valuable IP and disseminating it for public benefit. Providing services that connect relevant research to the marketplace, InnovationAccess turns its focus primarily towards protecting and commercializing intellectual property while simultaneously fostering entrepreneurship within the UC Davis community. It’s primary responsibility is to handle various types of contractual arrangements in order to properly and efficiently transfer IP to commercial enterprises (as well as other universities or non-profit institutions).
The UC Davis Office of Research provides a detailed summary of the Technology Transfer Process:
Whenever a company wishes to enter into an agreement with the university concerning University intellectual property, the company should contact an Intellectual Property Officer (IPO) within InnovationAccess. Any IPO will be able to provide assistance with securing the necessary agreement. If the agreement involves rights to specific intellectual property of the university, then the IPO assigned to that intellectual property will handle the request. Each invention abstract published on the website will provide the name and contact information for the assigned IPO.
Facilitating university-industry collaboration
The UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship serves as the “nexus for entrepreneurship education and research—and as a springboard for entrepreneurial initiatives on the UC Davis campus”. The institute brings both students and faculty members together with experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate leaders in a highly collaborative environment. The institute provides researchers, MBA students, and other faculty members with the necessary skills and resources to turn their ideas (ideas that may normally stay confined to a lab or office) into action, bringing them out into the world. In the same vein, UC Davis houses the UC Entrepreneurship Academy, a three-day program for commercializing science and engineering innovations. The academy facilitates moving research out of the lab and into the world, by offering its participants an intensive opportunity to explore market opportunities surrounding their ideas and research - something incredibly useful for individuals looking to move from the phase of planning and initial research done in a university setting to the phase of testing for viability in an industry setting. Daily seminars and interactive sessions are taught by investors, entrepreneurs, and industry experts selected to serve as mentors to program participants. Both the institute and the academy serve as central gateways between industry and the UC Davis community.
Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts
Though the city of Davis itself doesn’t have a terribly strong foothold in the entrepreneurial world, we are located next to our state’s capital, where opportunities are growing exponentially. Several events and activities in Sacramento encourage entrepreneurs to come together - the Startup Digest, Startup Grind, Code 4 Sacramento, Sacramento Game Devs, Women who Code, Women in Data, Square Root Academy, StartupSac, Operation Innovate, Health 2.0, and Yellow Circle are just a few examples. Sacramento based coworking spaces include The Workshop, Workflow Lounge, Innogrove, The Makers Place, Suite 210, The Blocs, the McClellan Innovation Center, the Hacker Lab, the Urban Hive, and Amen Coworking. As far as accelerators and incubators go, residents from around the region can seek support from CleanStart, Green Screen Institute, Founder Academy, Founder Institute, FourthWave, Willow Tree Roots, Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy, AgStart, MedStart, Video Lab West, and Davis Roots. Civic programs include MedZone, RAILS, SUTL, the Mayor’s Office for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, SBA, SBDC, GSEC, Sacramento iHub, and Tech Futures Group. Funding opportunities can be found through Impact Venture Capital, Central Valley Fund, AGR Partners, Akers Capital, Silicon Bay Partners, Sierra Angels, Sacramento Angels, Almond Tree Capital, the Davis Funding Club, DCS Capital, Blacktop Capital, Haney Biz, Black Angel Tech Fund, and Moneta Ventures.