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Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy

A collaboration between the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and UC Merced Venture Lab, the Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy is the premier academic program for commercializing innovations in science, engineering, social science and humanities.

The academy is open to community members and aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as upper-division undergrads, graduate students (master’s and doctoral), postdocs and faculty from all academic fields. We give priority registration to individuals referred by UC Merced (see application).

The academy is taught by investors, entrepreneurs, university faculty and industry experts who serve as mentors and guest speakers. You’ll gain the knowledge and networks needed to explore and develop the commercial potential of your research or venture. 

Key topics include how to ask the right questions to grow your venture; investigate its market, technical and business potential; build a team; protect your intellectual property; develop a presentation; and expand your network.

The program is intensive, so please come prepared to work hard. We encourage participants to attend all three full days to obtain maximum benefit.

The academy includes:

  • An opportunity to explore the market opportunities surrounding your ideas and your research.
  • Daily seminars and interactive sessions taught by leading investors, industry executives and entrepreneurs.
  • The tools to communicate the broader potential of your venture or research.
  • Evening mentoring sessions with industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors, who give you real-world feedback and guidance.

Program funding for the Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy is provided by the State of California through Assembly Bill 2664: University of California Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion.

How to Apply

The academy is open to community members and aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as upper-division undergrads, graduate students, postdocs and faculty from all academic fields.

Applications now closed.

Program Costs

There is no charge to attend the Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy. Coffee/tea, lunch and dinner are included. Participants are responsible for their lodging, transportation and parking fees. 

Please note: Need-based grants are available to cover travel and lodging expenses. Please indicate your interest in being considered for a grant on the application. 

Schedule, Location and Travel Information

The academy will take place Tuesday through Thursday, October 2–4, 2018, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel ModestoTo gain the full benefit of the academy experience, please plan to attend all sessions.

Call for Mentors

An integral part of the academy experience is the opportunity for participants to engage with industry professionals over two evenings. If you are interested in serving as a mentor for academy participants during one or both mentoring sessions, please sign up below:

Apply to mentor >

Entrepreneurship Academy Schedule
Entrepreneurship Academy Mentoring Overview

bio with bite: insights from a serial ag biotech entrepreneur


Dr. Pamela Marrone founded Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 to discover and develop effective and environmentally responsible, biologically based products for pest management and plant health. In August 2013 she led the company IPO on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

This event is free and open to the public.

2018 Featured Speakers

Andrew HargadonAndrew Hargadon – Faculty Director, UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Joe DinunzioJoe DiNunzio – Executive Director, UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Shane SmithShane Smith – Of Counsel, McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth LLP

Peter Schuerman – Associate Vice Chancellor, UC Merced

Mel TurnerMel Turner – Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, E. & J. Gallo Winery

Roger WerneRoger Werne – Deputy Director of Industrial Partnerships, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tamba BaldeTamba Balde – Co-Founder, Sweep Energy

Augustin RoldanAgustin Roldan – CEO and Hardware Engineer, Sweep Energy

Mark JacksonMark Jackson – Founder and Executive Director, The Pi Shop

James BatesJames Bates – President of Operations, Strategic Partnerships and R&D/Co-Founder, Data Path Inc.

John SelepJohn Selep – Investor, Advisor and Business Coach, Technology-based Businesses

Louis FriedmanLouis Friedman – Attorney, Gianelli | Nielsen

Tim KellerTim Keller – Executive Director, Inventopia

EscatelDomenica Escatel – Brand and Business Strategist

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