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InnovationAccess Gives New Focus to Campus Entrepreneurs

March 5, 2007

Under the new name of "UC Davis InnovationAccess," the University of California, Davis, is today expanding its commitment to entrepreneurship by relaunching its services for commercializing discoveries, supporting new businesses spun off from the campus, and promoting research collaborations with the private sector.

"Good ideas that could benefit people shouldn't stay on a lab shelf," said Barry Klein, vice chancellor for research. "Whether they are new treatments for disease or innovative technologies that make our lives better, our goal is to share them with the world so that people can benefit from them. Many of our research efforts focus on addressing world challenges and improving the quality of life for people."

The new UC Davis InnovationAccess unit brings together several service units within the Office of Research, including Technology Transfer Services, which manages intellectual property for the campus including patenting and licensing, and Business Development Services, which incorporates the former UC Davis CONNECT and supports entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.

The UC Davis CONNECT program was set up in 1999 and supported entrepreneurs and startup companies in the Sacramento region through networking and other activities. More recently, it has focused specifically on startups that originate from UC Davis, working more closely with a smaller number of companies at an earlier stage in their development.

UC Davis InnovationAccess continues and expands upon this work, helping startup companies succeed by connecting them with potential investors and management talent in this region and beyond.

"UC Davis InnovationAccess will focus on helping professors turn their ideas and discoveries into products in the marketplace," said Alan Bennett, associate vice chancellor for research, who is responsible for the unit.

In addition, UC Davis InnovationAccess helps faculty entrepreneurs understand how to balance their obligations to the university with the needs of their startup companies, said Meg Arnold, director of the former UC Davis CONNECT who now directs business development and entrepreneurship services in the new unit.

Since the 1970s, 30 companies have been spun off from UC Davis, 15 of them since 2000, according to research by Martin Kenney, a professor of human and community development at UC Davis, and researcher Don Patton. One of the first was the pioneering biotech company Calgene, founded by Professor Ray Valentine and now a part of Monsanto. More recent startups include companies in areas such as pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics (Arete Therapeutics, Glycometrix, Immunotox, Pediatric Bioscience); electronics (Synapsense, Mutant Logic, Advanced Luminescence); nanotechnology (Q1 Nanosystems); and data visualization (Stratovan).

Several of these companies got their start through the Little Bang poster competition run by UC Davis InnovationAccess and the Big Bang! Business Plan Competition, organized by students at the Graduate School of Management. In addition, a number of founders are alumni of the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, headed by Andrew Hargadon, a professor in the Graduate School of Management, which provides entrepreneurship-focused education and research opportunities to the campus.

Most of these startups are based on technology licensed through UC Davis InnovationAccess, which manages UC Davis' complete intellectual property portfolio and actively identifies commercialization opportunities and partners for all of its technologies. At the end of financial year 2004-05, UC Davis had 841 disclosed inventions, 405 filed patents and another 399 plant variety patents in its intellectual property portfolio. The campus disclosed 145 new inventions in 2004-05.

"UC Davis InnovationAccess actively works with all our partners to ensure that any license agreement in place will support the licensees' ultimate success in the market," said David McGee, executive director of UC Davis InnovationAccess.

This growth in startup companies and in inventions goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic increase in funding for research at UC Davis, which reached $544 million in 2005-06, up 83 percent since 2000-01. UC Davis ranks 12th among U.S. public universities in research and development expenditures, according to figures compiled by the National Science Foundation.

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