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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. Priority registration is given to individuals referred by UC Merced (see application).

The program 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.

Entrepreneurship Academy Schedule

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.

Complete your online application >

Program Costs

There is no charge to attend the Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy. Coffee/tea, lunch and dinner are also 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, November 7–9 at UC Merced.

We will meet from 7:45 a.m.–9 p.m. each day. To gain the full benefit of the academy experience, please plan to attend all sessions.

Click here for maps and directions to UC Merced.

Participants are responsible for their lodging. We recommend these local hotels: 

    Featured Speakers

    We will post additional speakers as they are confirmed.

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

    Cleve JustisCleveland Justis – Executive Director, UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

    Peter SchuermanPeter Schuerman – Associate Vice Chancellor, UC Merced

    Phil RettgerPhil Rettger – Co-Founder & CEO, Aetherix Corporation

    Cara BairdCara Baird – Program Manager, UC Merced Venture Lab

    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 >

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