The University of California, Irvine has received $2.2 million from the state that will be administered through UCI Applied Innovation to help speed research and innovations to commercialization.
The funding will underwrite the Bridging Innovation Gaps Initiative at UCI and provide additional support for:
- The BioENGINE program, which promotes biomedical engineering entrepreneurship by helping graduate students design medical devices and take them to market
- Proof of product grants, which range from $25,000 to $125,000 and are awarded to projects with great potential in the early stages of development and provide gap funding to translate research and intellectual property into commercially viable products and services
- Grant applications, specifically for federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer funding
“Exciting new discoveries and technologies are consistently developed at UCI,” said Richard Sudek, executive director of Applied Innovation, which fosters collaboration between campus-based researchers and Orange County’s vibrant business community. “However, we have a need for programs that help innovators get past critical pivot points to commercialization. This funding validates the track Chancellor Howard Gillman set for us in establishing Applied Innovation two years ago and will serve to accelerate programs that are already showing great promise.”
The state investment, which UCI will pair with matching funds from industry and entrepreneurs, comes via Assembly bill 2664, written by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, to expand innovation and entrepreneurship and signed last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“The UC system is the gold standard for research and innovation,” Irwin said. “That’s why I’m proud to have authored AB 2664.”
Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, whose district encompasses UCI, said that the junction of research, innovation and entrepreneurship is the nucleus of economic development.
“The infusion of state funding through AB 2664 at UCI Applied Innovation is having a positive impact on our community, region and state,” he added. “I’m pleased to see the continued development this enables and look forward to the economic growth that is generated.”
Tim Wilson, a partner in Artiman Ventures – a Silicon Valley fund that invests in entrepreneurs building companies with the potential to disrupt multibillion-dollar markets – said: “Close ties with academic partners is something Artiman values very highly. Orange County, and UCI in particular, represents a growing innovation hub we are keeping a close eye on. With more support early in the product development life cycle, we anticipate even more research-based startups coming out of UCI.”
The university enjoyed a record-breaking $395 million in research grants and contracts during fiscal 2015-16.
“UCI’s growing, world-class research enterprise will continue to make a greater impact both nationally and globally,” said Pramod Khargonekar, the campus’s vice chancellor for research. “And by leveraging private-sector partnerships, we’ll be able to move this research more quickly to the places where it can improve people’s lives.”