Innovator Article

Building on Success
$5 Million Commitment Establishes New Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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by Angela Hokanson

UC Davis has launched 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 Renée Child.

The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is housed at the Graduate School of Management, 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.

“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 Dean Steven C. Currall. “Mike and Renée are very excited about building this ecosystem of entrepreneurship across the campus.”

The institute builds on the success and experience of the Graduate School of Management’s 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, now serves as the institute’s faculty director.

Over the past five years, the center had a significant impact regionally, across the country and across continents. Its alumni have launched more than 45 companies in areas ranging from medical diagnostics to solar power to biodegradable plastics.

The center’s programs helped more than 650 graduate students, postdoctoral and faculty researchers explore the commercial applications of their ideas and connect them with business investors and industry careers.

Results-driven Innovation

The institute will strengthen the coordination of entrepreneurship and innovation activities across UC Davis’ colleges, schools, centers and organized research units. 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 holds the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship.

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 has strong partnerships with industry and policymakers. 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.

Transformative Gift

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

Mike Child is a senior advisor at the Silicon Valley office of TA Associates, one of the oldest and largest private equity firms in the world. He graduated from UC Davis in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Renée 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.

In addition to serving as a trustee on the UC Davis Foundation board, Mike Child is a member of the Campaign Cabinet, a group of volunteer leaders that is guiding the uni-versity during its first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Renée 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. The Childs previously provided a leadership gift to name the Michael C. and Renée Child Faculty Office in the Graduate School of Management’s Gallagher Hall.

“We are very pleased to be able to support UC Davis’ remarkable work across diverse disciplines,” Mike Child said. “UC Davis provided us with an excellent education, and we’re happy to be able to give back to this outstanding university,” Renée Child added.

Their contributions will be counted as part of The Campaign for UC Davis, a university-wide initiative to inspire 100,000 donors to contribute $1 billion in support of the university’s mission and vision.

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