Steve Zylius / UC Irvine Peter the Anteater joins Antrepreneur Center celebrants, from left Ryan Foland, assistant director, David Ochi, director; Ramona Agrela, associate chancellor; Sean Madnini, senior managing director for Blackstone; Carol Choi, entrepreneur and alumna; Sharon Salinger, dean of undergraduate education; and Candace Wu, student entrepreneur, in cutting the ribbon at the center's opening.

From drawing boards to boardrooms

Two new initiatives help Anteaters hone their entrepreneurial skills

Students and faculty looking to turn great ideas, research discoveries and technological breakthroughs into businesses can count onto UC Irvine for support with the introduction of two new campus initiatives  – The Institute for Innovation and the Blackstone Launchpad Antrepreneur Center. Both announced in February, they are expected to create a “vibrant, interconnected and self-sustaining community of students, scholars, industries and entrepreneurs,” according to Howard Gillman, provost and executive vice chancellor.

Institute for Innovation
This campuswide center is focused on integrating research, entrepreneurship and technology to create real-world applications that benefit the public and drive the economy, said Gillman, who will lead the institute.

With initial funding through a $5 million endowment from the Beall Family Foundation, the institute will expand on the success of the Beall Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at The Paul Merage School of Business. It will incorporate UC Irvine’s Office of Technology Alliances, which patents and licenses the campus’s intellectual property, and the functions of corporate relations and industry-sponsored research. The center will become the single point of contact for corporate partners and business leaders – whether they’re interested in research, working with UC Irvine’s spin-off companies, licensing technologies or other innovation-related interactions – and provide concierge-level services for faculty and students.

“Elite research universities act as engines of innovation and progress, not only by engaging in fundamental research but also by helping students and faculty transform discoveries into practices and products that benefit society,” Gillman said. “Making this a more strategic focus is especially vital for UCI, given that we’re located in a region known for its entrepreneurial spirit. It will also enhance our ability to attract and retain outstanding faculty and students, who increasingly expect campuses to help them achieve their aspirations for positive social impact.”

Donald Beall, chairman emeritus and retired chairman/CEO of Rockwell, said that accelerating the transfer of technology to the marketplace “plays a critical role in helping America remain competitive in a global economy.” He added: “UCI has been a driving force in uncovering breakthroughs that have a real-world impact, and the Beall family is pleased to help the university take its leadership to the next level with the creation of this institute. Together, we hope to bring discoveries to life, benefiting students, faculty, business leaders, the community and society as a whole.”

See what business leaders have to say here.

Antrepreneur Center

UC Irvine’s Division of Undergraduate Education opened the doors of the Antrepreneur Center – a creative combination of Anteater and entrepreneur – to an enthusiastic crowd of students with great ideas and donors and venture capitalists eager to invest in them. The service, located in the UC Irvine Student Center, is part of an affiliation with UCLA, USC and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and support from local philanthropists and alumni Carol and Eugene Choi. It will pair student entrepreneurs from all disciplines with mentors and experts ready to help.

“Any undergraduate who has an idea can now see it become a reality,” said Sharon Salinger, dean of undergraduate education. “Entrepreneurship is a wonderful way to think of your own future.”

David Ochi, director of the center, said it would not have happened without Salinger’s leadership. “She was passionate about doing this for students, and she forged ahead. As a result, UCI is ready to get to work immediately.”

The  Southern California Blackstone LaunchPad partnership  is an expansion of a program already underway in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Montana. It’s modeled after  the University of Miami’s project started in 2008 that has generated 1,413 business proposals, created 210 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,600 participants. Regional programs established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation work together, pooling ideas and best practices from 11 campuses and giving student entrepreneurs in Southern California access to a national community of more than 350,000 peers and expert advisers. With a physical presence on each campus, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate 500 or so new ventures in California over the next five years.

Ray Chan is a managing partner in K5, an early-stage funding platform that hosts, mentors and invests in technology-driven businesses led by visionary founders. He said the Antrepreneur Center is an idea whose time has come. “We’re eager to work with the center. We’re not Ph.Ds, so we can’t teach, but we can advise and invest. It’s very exciting.”

Appearing onstage at the Los Angeles launch with provosts from USC and UCLA as well as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Gillman introduced guests to the idea of Antrepreneurs, calling Peter the most “inspirational and ferocious” of all mascots.  “Universities have proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth,” he said. “Half of the economic growth in this country since World War II has come out of universities, and UC Irvine is ready to be a center where we can develop products and services that contribute to society and create jobs.”

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