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Innovator Article

Innovation Hub: Matching UC Davis Research with Regional Economic Development

UC Davis is reviewing more than 40 ideas and concepts for an Innovation Hub that would better connect campus research with entrepreneurs, accelerate the transfer of discoveries into commercial products, and develop the local and regional economy—all strategic priorities for the Graduate School of Management and opportunities for MBA students.

As one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities, UC Davis is a burgeoning enterprise for innovation and a major regional economic engine fueled by annual research funding approaching $700 million. The campus has secured more than 400 U.S. patents and earned $110 million in licensing revenue over the past decade. Now the focus is on expanding and speeding commercialization efforts.

With its land-grant mission, strength of location and depth of academic expertise, UC Davis is uniquely positioned to lead innovation at the crossroads of the world’s most critical issues: water, food, energy, the environment, health and society. These areas are likely to present opportunities for partnerships with the private sector, but successful initiatives could come from any area of research on campus.

The Innovation Hub could take many forms. It might involve creating virtual networks of existing resources, or building new space dedicated to fostering start-up companies—or all of those things, or something else entirely.

“The overarching goal is to help move university research into productive commercial use,” said Karl Mohr, assistant vice chancellor in the Office of Administrative and Resource Management. “We also want to explore matching that objective with local communities’ economic development aspirations.”

The campus is reviewing 43 recently submitted concepts that mesh with local goals and that will help UC Davis meet five objectives:

  • Advance the economic prosperity of the region and enable transfer of knowledge and technology from UC Davis to the marketplace.
  • Lead the development of the clean energy, life science and agriculture-based economy of Northern California.
  • Deepen connections to the regional, national and global business communities.
  • Support a culture of entrepreneurship to transform UC Davis research into for-profit enterprises.
  • Provide educational opportunities for faculty, staff and students to develop and demonstrate the commercial value of their inventions.

“UC Davis has an ambitious vision to further strengthen our ability to ensure that society benefits from discoveries and innovations by members of the university community,” said Dean Steven Currall. “The proposed Innovation Hub will provide mechanisms, including possible physical facilities, to connect university innovators, business leaders, entrepreneurs and financial investors.”

Currall said the Innovation Hub would provide a launching pad for start-ups and a landing zone for large, established companies to work more closely with the university. “The new Innovation Hub will build upon, and complement, the success of our Center for Entrepreneurship and its strengths in entrepreneurship education, research, networking and outreach to the investor community.”


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