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$5M commitment to establish new institute for innovation and entrepreneurship

November 8, 2011

The University of California, Davis, is launching a new interdisciplinary institute devoted to education, research and outreach in innovation and entrepreneurship, with the help of a $5 million commitment from alumni Mike and Renée Child.

The institute, named The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will help to integrate innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and actions across the university, and strengthen UC Davis’ role as a vital player in catalyzing economic development in the region, state and beyond.

“The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will help UC Davis assume a global leadership role in entrepreneurship and innovation, building on our already strong foundation in these areas,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “We are grateful to the Childs for making this possible.”

The institute, which launches today, builds on the success and experience of the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, which since 2006 has helped researchers and students move their innovations and ideas into the marketplace. The center’s founding director, Professor Andrew Hargadon, is now serving as the institute’s faculty director.

“UC Davis is committed to improving society by bringing breakthrough technologies out of the university and into the world and by preparing our students to be entrepreneurial leaders, regardless of their academic field,” said Steven Currall, the dean of the Graduate School of Management, which will house the new interdisciplinary institute.

The institute will strengthen the coordination of entrepreneurship and innovation activities across UC Davis’ colleges, schools, centers and organized research units, becoming the university’s unifying structure for these pursuits.

For example, the institute will help facilitate such current UC Davis initiatives as: the Biotechnology Program in the Office of Research, the College of Engineering’s Engineering Translational Technology Center, the Science and Technology Studies Program in the College of Letters and Science, and the Center for Science and Innovation Studies, among others.

“UC Davis is home to an amazing array of expertise across disciplines. This institute will help our faculty and students translate their knowledge and skills into ventures that improve society and add value to the economy,” said Hargadon, who is a professor of technology management at the Graduate School of Management and holds the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship.

The institute will develop and demonstrate the commercial potential of UC Davis research in science, engineering and medical fields where UC Davis is already a recognized leader and is engaged with industry and policy partners. These areas include the work of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; the Energy Efficiency Center; the Clinical and Translational Science Center; the Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology; and the Institute for Transportation Studies, among others. The institute will also foster innovation and entrepreneurship for students in the humanities and social sciences.

“I applaud the creation of this institute, which will provide unique resources to ensure that the cutting-edge knowledge generated at UC Davis is applied, disseminated and commercialized in ways that benefit society,” said Claire Pomeroy, the CEO of UC Davis Health System. “This institute will advance the innovative spirit that flourishes at UC Davis.”

Specifically, the institute will:

  • Integrate innovation and entrepreneurship courses alongside and within existing academic degree programs.
  • Promote the study of innovation and entrepreneurship by management, social science, humanities and legal researchers across the university.
  • Support the MBA-student-run Big Bang! Business Plan Competitions.
  • Expand UC Davis' pioneering and nationally recognized business development certificate programs and entrepreneurship academies for faculty, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in the life sciences and engineering and for graduate students in business designed to help move ideas from lab to market.
  • Develop opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for undergraduate students across the university, including those in social sciences and humanities.
  • Further programs to build networks that connect campus entrepreneurs with mentors and investors to accelerate commercialization.
  • Reach out to business and government to inform the adoption of innovative technologies.

The Childs’ $5 million commitment will be invested in an endowment, ensuring ongoing financial support for the institute and its important work into the future.

The Childs have also recently made several other generous gifts to UC Davis, to support other areas of great interest to them. These gifts include:

  • An endowed scholarship fund to support students at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
  • An endowed research fund at the Center for Mind and Brain to function as “seed” funding for preliminary research that has the potential to lead to major scientific breakthroughs
  • Support for current research in the College of Engineering’s Engineering Translational Technology Center, to help engineering faculty, faculty emeriti and students in bringing their research ideas to the marketplace as commercial businesses

“With their gifts, the Childs have made tremendous philanthropic investments to advance innovation across UC Davis,” said Enrique J. Lavernia, dean of the College of Engineering. “This support for the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Engineering Translational Technology Center will foster symbiotic relationships and have a great impact in transferring innovations to the marketplace.”

Mike Child graduated from UC Davis in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Renée Child also graduated from UC Davis in 1976, with degrees in psychology and German. One of their daughters is a UC Davis student, and the other is a recent UC Davis graduate. The couple lives in Atherton, Calif.

In addition to serving as a trustee on the UC Davis Foundation board, Mike Child is also a member of the Campaign Cabinet, a group of volunteer leaders that is guiding the university during its first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Renée Child is a member of the College of Letters and Science’s Deans’ Advisory Council, a volunteer group that advocates for and advises the college.

“We are very pleased to be able to support UC Davis’ remarkable work across diverse disciplines,” Mike Child said.

“UC Davis provided us with an excellent education, and we’re happy to be able to give back to this outstanding university,” Renée Child said.

Their contributions will be counted as part of The Campaign for UC Davis, a universitywide initiative to inspire 100,000 donors to contribute $1 billion in support of the university’s mission and vision.

For more information on The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship visit http://entrepreneurship.ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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