Irvine, Calif., Feb. 25, 2014 – The University of California, Irvine today announced the creation of the UC Irvine Institute for Innovation, an interdisciplinary and campuswide center focused on integrating research, entrepreneurship and technology to create real-world applications that benefit the public and drive the economy.
The institute is envisioned to be “an epicenter of innovation in Orange County by creating a vibrant, interconnected and self-sustaining community of students, scholars, industries and entrepreneurs,” said UC Irvine Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Howard Gillman.
With initial funding through a $5 million endowment from the Beall Family Foundation, the institute will expand upon 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 handles the patenting and licensing of 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 opportunities, working with UC Irvine’s spin-off companies, licensing of 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 R. 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.”
Beall’s sentiments were echoed by business leaders throughout Southern California.
David E.I. Pyott, chairman of the board and CEO of Allergan Inc.: “Allergan and UC Irvine share a commitment to scientific excellence and life-improving discoveries. As our neighbor, UC Irvine has been a source for providing robust research and a talented workforce. We welcome the formation of UC Irvine’s Institute for Innovation, which demonstrates the university’s continuing dedication to delivering ideas that improve the economic, individual and cultural health of the region and the world.”
Henry Samueli, Ph.D., co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical officer at Broadcom Corp.: “Education has the power to foster incredible creativity and innovation. I’m very proud of my connection with UC Irvine and believe it’s a world-class institution that has been instrumental in sharing ideas and discoveries with the business community. The innovation institute will strengthen the link between industry and academia and will help cultivate the transfer of new technologies to the marketplace.”
Paul Merage, chairman and co-founder of MIG Capital: “The Merage School of Business has a legacy of superior achievement and entrepreneurial spirit. I applaud the university’s efforts to build on this legacy and create a culture that encourages innovation, creativity, risk and investment.”
Jim Mazzo, operating partner at Versant Ventures: “I’ve been actively involved with many areas of UC Irvine for decades. As a chief executive of international corporations, I find access to the university’s discoveries advantageous in developing strategies and identifying future markets. The innovation center will create an efficient, central source for groundbreaking research, helping the region’s businesses thrive through knowledge and leadership.”
Matthew Jenusaitis, president and CEO of OCTANe: “UC Irvine is a powerhouse of technology, healthcare, Earth systems sciences and engineering discoveries in the heart of Southern California,” said Matthew Jenusaitis, president and CEO, OCTANe. “This new Institute for Innovation will allow this world-class university to move beyond the traditional classroom and laboratory environment to address social issues and improve the human condition. With a shared interesting in bringing new ideas quickly to market and benefitting the surrounding community, OCTANe fully supports UCI’s commitment to innovation and the formation of the new institute.”
Ted Smith, chairman and CEO of MIND Research Institute as well as founder and retired chairman of FileNet: “MIND Research Institute is a living example of the power of UC Irvine’s innovation and research. Twenty years ago, UCI researchers discovered an effective way to teach math the way children learn – visually and experientially – which became the foundation for a separate, nonprofit entity in 1998. Today, MIND Research Institute is improving remarkably the problem-solving and math proficiency of 630,000 children in more than 2,000 schools across 35 states. Imagine the societal benefit if we could bring ideas like this to the community more quickly and effectively, as envisioned with UC Irvine’s Institute for Innovation.”
MIND Research Institute is one of more than 60 companies established with the support of UC Irvine-based research. The university has also yielded 901 inventions, 334 active U.S. patents and 113 active license or option agreements.
Irvine Mayor Steven S. Choi, Ph.D., who delivers his State of the City address later today, noted the civic impact of the campus’s contributions. “Irvine remains a thriving employment hub due in no small part to the city’s long-standing partnership with UC Irvine,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a pre-eminent research institution at our doorstep, supplying economic opportunities through scientific discoveries and a steady stream of intelligent, skilled workers. We salute the university’s desire to accelerate its contributions to the community through an innovation institute, which will help us retain our place among the world’s greatest cities and universities.”
The Beall Family Foundation will continue to support entrepreneurial opportunities through The Paul Merage School of Business, which provides a broad range of programs that include an annual business plan competition, networking with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and workshops and advisory services.
“The Beall Center in the Merage School has been a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship across the university,” said Andrew Policano, director of UC Irvine’s Center for Investment & Wealth Management and former dean of The Paul Merage School of Business. “We’re delighted that the Beall family will continue to support the center in the business school while also funding a major university initiative that will bring our vast research expertise into the community.”
Gillman said that the university’s existing efforts, coupled with the new Institute for Innovation, “clearly demonstrate our commitment to economic growth and preparing leaders for an evolving, knowledge-based society.”
The university is recruiting an executive director – reporting directly to Gillman and supported by an advisory board of university and business leaders – to lead the institute and is also seeking additional financial support, with a goal of attracting a naming gift.
“The institute will empower our innovators, but we also want it to energize our supporters,” Gillman said. “We will need the help of the community to ensure that these efforts will have the strongest possible impact.”
About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving high-tech hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.
Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at http://communications.uci.edu/for-journalists/experts/. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit wp.communications.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.