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UC Davis Awards Grants to Advance Innovative Solutions with Commercial Potential

Wheat plants photographed in Robbins Hall at UC Davis

Wheat plants photographed in Robbins Hall at UC Davis. UC Davis Professor Jorge Dubcovsky and Postdoctoral Researcher Josh Hegarty are collaborating with flour mills and artisan bakers to test and select a variety of Triticale, a hybrid that combines wheat and rye. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

DAVIS, Calif. — Seven scientists at the University of California, Davis, are receiving grants to advance research and innovations with commercial potential. The recipients are addressing an important range of challenges — from cancer to climate change — with unique solutions.

Now in its seventh year, the Science Translation and Innovative Research, or STAIR, grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 to campus innovators to enable demonstration of early proof-of-concept for technologies being developed at the university. A second program, Data, Informatics and Application Launch (DIAL), provides awards of up to $20,000 for innovations specifically geared toward data, information science or software.

“UC Davis is committed to seeing that innovations from the lab, clinic and greenhouse make their way to the marketplace so society can benefit from our discoveries,” said Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor for research. “The funding and support from this grant program fill a critical gap, allowing researchers to explore and test the commercial potential of novel and bold ideas that otherwise may not have been possible.”

The programs are funded and managed by Venture Catalyst in the UC Davis Office of Research. Several campus and industry partners also joined this cycle to increase the funding, including BASF, Elanco Animal Health, the UC Davis School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine and College of Biological Sciences.

External review committees consisting of industry professionals, investors, and experienced entrepreneurs, assembled by Venture Catalyst, reviewed the proposals and selected the recipients of the awards.

In addition to receiving grants, recipients participate in a structured entrepreneurial training program, such as the Entrepreneurship Academy hosted by the UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Awardees are also paired with experienced business mentors to provide guidance on commercial translation. Read more >

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiatives Enabled by AB 2664 Funding Show Impact

Abhijit Chaudhari, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Radiology, has received a DIAL grant to help commercialize a software plugin for medical imaging that can perform texture analysis and integrate seamlessly with OsiriX, one of the most widely-used medical image viewers in the world.

Abhijit Chaudhari, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Radiology, has received a DIAL grant to help commercialize a software plugin for medical imaging that can perform texture analysis and integrate seamlessly with OsiriX, one of the most widely-used medical image viewers in the world

Original post: research.ucdavis.edu/innovation-and-entrepreneurship-initiatives-enabled-by-ab-2664-funding-show-impact

A one-time $2.2 million investment from the State of California under Assembly Bill 2664 is propelling new and expanded innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives at the University of California, Davis, through enhancements to its related infrastructure, resources and business training programs.

The programs represent a coordinated and collaborative effort among several campus entities including the Office of Research, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Student Startup Center, Biomedical Engineering, Office of the Provost, Office of Graduate Studies and Internship and Career Center.

Almost two years into the initiatives, new and expanded programs have directly enabled 19 startups, accelerated 47 companies, led to 37 products, delivered 1,900 hours of mentoring and trained over 950 aspiring entrepreneurs.

Notable new and expanded programs

Proof-of-concept grants developed and managed by Venture Catalyst in the Office of Research: Launched the second cycle of the both the Data, Informatics and Application Launch (DIAL™) Grants, which provide targeted funding for software and data informatics projects with commercial potential, and the STAIR-Plus™ Grant program that provides additional support to Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR™) Grant recipients who have successfully achieved project milestones and are poised for commercial impact pending specific additional targeted results. Since the launch of the DIAL and STAIR-Plus programs, 12 grants and a total of $218,586 have been awarded to campus innovators to advance their projects toward commercialization.

Distributed Research Incubation and Venture Engine (DRIVE™) Network: Expanded research and development capabilities for entrepreneurs and startups within the Venture Catalyst DRIVE Network of incubators and the campus Translating Engineering Advances to Medicine (TEAM) Lab prototyping facility, including the deployment of 39 pieces of equipment and instrumentation. The newly available equipment has helped to catalyze Inventopia’s move to a new facility last year, a new partnership with The Urban Hive, and an expanded partnership with HM.CLAUSE at the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center.

Discounted Access to Research Translation Services (DARTS™) Program: Provided startups participating in Venture Catalyst’s Smart Toolkit for Accelerated Research Translation (START™) program access to state-of-the-art services and equipment at partner UC Davis core research facilities at competitive rates designed to address the capital constraints of startups. A complementary program was also launched for participants in the DRIVE network with access to credits to be used at DARTS core facilities.

Cross campus collaborative engagement

Venture Catalyst has been working in close collaboration with university partners in a wide range of coordinated efforts throughout campus. These activities include input on program design and candidate selection in the Advanced Student Career Enablement and Development (ADVANCE) business training and internship programs with implementations through the Leaders for the Future and the Entrepreneurship Quest: Undergraduate Internship Program (EQUIP) in collaboration with Graduate Studies, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Internship and Career Center.

In addition, Venture Catalyst has engaged with judging of the Little Bang! poster competitions organized by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, participated in the planning committee for the Aggie Innovation and Startup Symposium in a cross-campus collaboration led by the Office of the Provost, and supported the Creator Challenge Series and Prototyping Labs and Startup Mentorship Accelerator (PLASMA) program participants with early-stage startup resources to help form and grow successful companies and technologies.

Media Contacts

AJ Cheline, Office of Research, (530) 752-1101, acheline@ucdavis.edu

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AB 2664 Innovation Funds Show Early Signs of Impact at UC Davis

AB 2664 Innovation Funds Show Early Signs of Impact at UC Davis

A $2.2 million investment from the state is propelling new innovation and entrepreneurship efforts at the University of California, Davis through enhancements to its related infrastructure, resources and business training programs. The one-time funding was received in early 2017 under Assembly Bill 2664 — the UC Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill authored by Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks — and is showing signs of early impact in terms of new technologies, startup companies and talent development.

“By expanding our innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure and supporting programs, UC Davis is seizing the opportunity to effectively translate its close to $800 million of annual research funding into regional and statewide economic growth,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research. “Although we are less than a year into the funding, we are already noticing an impact through our programs.”

UC Davis is using the funds to launch new programs and expand existing ones that provide entrepreneurs and innovators the resources and guidance needed to overcome barriers to successful innovation and early-stage technology commercialization. The programs represent a coordinated effort amongst several campus entities including the Office of Research, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Engineering Student Startup Center, Office of the Provost, Office of Graduate Studies, and Internship and Career Center.

A summary report sent to state officials by the University of California Office of the President contained some examples of the range of activities and related impact supported by AB 2664 funds across the system. At UC Davis, use of these funds is demonstrating a positive impact through programs that have advanced 15 technologies through proof-of-concept grant programs, assisted 34 startup companies and provided training and development to nearly 500 entrepreneurs.

Some of the notable new and expanded programs providing support include:

  • Food and Ag Entrepreneurship Academy: Expanded business training workshop and mentorship series developed and implemented by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, focused on commercializing technologies at the intersection of food, agriculture and health.
  • Advanced Student Career Enablement and Development (ASCEND) Program: New cross-campus collaboration, involving Graduate Studies, the Internship and Career Center, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Office of Research, with initial implementation through the Leaders for the Future pilot program focused on helping PhD candidates and postdoctoral scholars connect with non-academic career opportunities through industry engagement and business training.
  • Proof-of-Concept Grants developed and managed by Venture Catalyst in the Office of Research: Expansion of the Science Translation & Innovative Research (STAIRTM) Grants to include opportunities for graduate students to participate on project teams, development of commercialization clinics to facilitate market focus and the STAIR-Plus™ Grant that provides additional support to STAIR Grant recipients who have successfully achieved project milestones and are poised for commercial impact pending specific additional targeted results. Also launched was the new Data, Informatics & Application Launch (DIALTM) Grants, which provide targeted funding for software and data informatics projects with commercial potential.
  • Creator Challenge Series: New undergraduate student maker competition organized by the Engineering Student Startup Center in the College of Engineering, as a four-phase event with supplemental skill-building workshops for student entrepreneurs, culminated in an event where teams presented in a competition for proof-of-concept funding.
  • Distributed Research Incubation & Venture Engine (DRIVETM) Network: Expanded research and development capabilities within the Venture Catalyst DRIVE Network comprising business incubation facilities available to university-affiliated startups and community-based entrepreneurs, by placing 10 pieces of technical equipment that enhance targeted areas for developing companies. The newly available equipment has helped to catalyze a new partnership with The Urban Hive and I/O Labs, an expanded partnership with HM.CLAUSE, and the move to a new facility for Inventopia, all of which significantly expands the capabilities of campus innovators, university-affiliated startups and local companies.
  • Discounted Access to Research Translation Services (DARTSTM) Program: New program that provides startups participating in Venture Catalyst’s Smart Toolkit for Accelerated Research Translation (START™) program access to state-of-the-art services and equipment at designated UC Davis core research facilities at competitive rates designed to address the capital constraints of startups. A complementary program was also launched for participants in the DRIVE network with access to credits to be used at DARTS core facilities.

A good example of the how these programs are helping campus entrepreneurs develop solutions that address societal needs is the progress of Tony Simon, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-founder of Cognivive, who is developing video games that act as “digital medicines” with the initial objective of treating children with cognitive impairments. Simon, one of three recipients of the STAIR-Plus Grants, was awarded $20,000 in funding to further advance his technology beyond early proof-of-concept stage.

“AB 2664 funds have been instrumental in helping us advance our digital treatment prototypes towards efficacy and commercialization by helping us move the early, desktop computer versions of our neurotherapeutic video games to a virtual reality delivery platform that allows us to much more directly impact the neurocognitive systems whose functioning we aim to improve.” Simon said. “On top of that development work, the ongoing commercialization clinics and business training workshops we are participating in, are ensuring that we don’t just develop really effective treatments but that we also are best prepared to actually get them to those people who really need them.”

Another example of the direct impact of these programs is the work of an undergraduate team of students that received the first place prize in the Creator Challenge Series. The team, named JAPA, short for Just a Parking App, developed a solution that provides real‐time parking spot availability and navigation to drivers via an app. “With the prize money, the team and I were able to push our product further by ordering the necessary components that we would not have normally had the money to buy,” said Mathew Magno of JAPA. “Since then, we have been testing and developing two types of sensors for JAPA and we have progressed tremendously.”

Plans to utilize the funding run through 2019, with the majority to be disbursed through the 2018 fiscal year. Some of the new programs that will be implemented include the Little Bang! student oriented micro-grant poster competition that is launching in conjunction with the Big Bang! Business Competition, the Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy that is launching in partnership with UC Merced in the fall and the Aggie Innovation and Startup Symposium which will include workshops with content addressing the experiences of underrepresented populations and include speakers from the region who can serve as role models and mentors.

For more information on how funds from AB 2664 are being used at UC Davis or opportunities to participate in the related programs, please contact venturecatalyst@ucdavis.edu.

From Ideas to Innovations: Recipients of 2016 STAIR Grants Announced

From ideas to innovation with STAIR grants

August 4, 2016: Venture Catalyst, a unit within the Technology Management and Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Science Translation and Innovative Research, or STAIR, grants.

Now in its third year, the competitive STAIR grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 to help campus entrepreneurs demonstrate proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility of their technologies.

This year’s award recipients are undertaking innovative projects to address a variety of unmet market needs. The 2016 STAIR award winners are:

gino-cortopassiGino Cortopassi, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences; Alexey Tomilov, assistant project scientist, Department of Molecular Biosciences
Cortopassi and Tomilov have identified several compounds that significantly inhibit Shc, a signaling protein that has been shown to improve the body’s response to insulin and produce resistance to pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


richard-levenson

Richard Levenson, professor and vice chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Farzad Fereidouni, assistant project scientist, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Levenson and his team have created an innovative new method for spectral imaging that drastically reduces the amount of data needed for analysis. Their novel approach uses a conventional camera sensor fitted with either a filter wheel or beam-splitting optics.


kai-liu-e1470180402210

Kai Liu, professor, Department of Physics
Liu and his team invented a new method that creates stable skyrmion lattices at room temperature and in zero magnetic field, making them an excellent candidate for energy efficient data storage as well as other nanoelectronics applications.


tony-simon-e1470180329611

Tony Simon, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Simon has invented a “neurotherapeutic” video game designed to help improve the cognitive abilities of children with genetic disorders such as chromosome 22q11.2 deletion, fragile X, Turner and Williams syndromes, among others.


“The STAIR grant program is unique in many ways,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “The structured review process we have developed enables our independent reviewers to effectively assess proposals for technical merit, market need and the ability to effectively achieve commercial milestones. Additionally, this process allows us to provide detailed written feedback to all applicants, which makes the STAIR program part of a continuous improvement and learning process rather than simply a funding opportunity.”

Each STAIR award recipient, as well as all award finalists, are assigned one or more volunteer mentors who review project milestones, offer commercialization guidance, provide business advice, and facilitate networking opportunities and connections to industry. The mentors are selected from the UC Davis Venture Catalyst MentorNet™ program and represent a mix of industry professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. Members of the Venture Catalyst MentorNet also serve on the grant application review committee.

The annual STAIR grant program is open to anyone with principal investigator eligibility at UC Davis. Postdoctoral scholars and staff are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators.

Past STAIR Grant Recipients Make Progress with Innovations

Previous years’ STAIR grant recipients have made significant progress in moving projects forward along the path to commercialization.renal-artery-300x191

Richard Levenson has received a STAIR grant two years in a row. In 2015, he proposed developing a prototype for a new type of microscopy instrumentation. Microscopy with Ultraviolet Surface Excitation, or MUSE, as the novel technology is called, permits the creation of diagnostic-quality images of tissue samples that are generated in minutes using LED light, and eliminates the need for the traditional time-consuming preparation of samples and glass slides.

Levenson credits his STAIR grant as being pivotal in funding the opto-mechanical design of the prototypes that he and his team are assembling which will soon ship to collaborators. “Without STAIR funding, we would not have had the resources to move forward as we have.”

In addition to the creation of the prototypes, two patents have been issued for the invention and a third patent application has been submitted and published. The team has also launched a startup company, MUSE Microscopy Inc.

Related Links

STAIR grant program
2015 Recipients
2014 Recipients
• “Digital neurotherapeutic” game in development at the UC Davis MIND Institute
Magnetic skyrmions at room temperature: New digital memory?