Geoff Jennings Pursues the Power of Clean Tech

Mixing world-class UC Davis scientists with MBA students in business development labs is having explosive results. Alumnus Geoff Jennings ’07 is proving the power of
the experiment with an innovative clean-tech start-up he’s co-founded.

As an entrepreneur, you become a jack-of-all-trades — from finance to fundraising to marketing and business development.  The UC Davis MBA program gave me the tools I needed to launch a start-up –and to know when to bring in experts.

- Geoff Jennings ‘07 

During his first weeks at the Graduate School of Management, Jennings met Shawna Brown, a post-graduate researcher in chemistry, who collaborated with researchers at the California Institute of Technology to develop for NASA a material that efficiently turns waste heat into electricity.

Realizing the potential of the eco-friendly technology, Jennings and Brown teamed up. They built a prototype for demonstrations (pictured), drafted a business plan and explored potential markets. The result: High Merit Thermoelectrics, which they’ve incorporated and successfully licensed patents from UC Davis and Caltech.

The venture has attracted considerable investor interest, having won or reached the finals of several campus, regional and statewide business plan competitions.

“The competitions allowed us—two young students—to network with movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and venture capital communities,” Jennings says. “That just doesn’t happen except in these kinds of settings.”

Jennings says his management experience in the outdoor industry and personal advocacy for the environment meshed perfectly with the ethos at UC Davis—opening up a world of opportunities. The School honored Jennings for his talent and passion with the Corbett Fellowship for Student Entrepreneurs.

As he pursues funding for High Merit, Jennings says his UC Davis MBA experience prepared him well for the challenge of launching a start-up—and making a difference.

“When you recognize how much power business has to change the world, becoming a business leader to create change is more effective than being an advocate asking
business to change.”