In a little more than a year, Richard Sudek has led the transformation of Applied Innovation from a bold idea into a grand reality. This is best illustrated by a walk through The Cove, its headquarters in University Research Park. The stunning, high-tech facility is more than an administrative home, more than a state-of-the-art meeting space and more than an incubator for startup companies. Itâ€™s designed to become the heart of Orange Countyâ€™s vibrant entrepreneurial community, according to Sudek, the executive director. Here, he discusses Applied Innovation (formerly the Institute for Innovation) and The Cove, which hosted an open house Oct. 8 that drew together hundreds of campus and community members.
Q: What services does Applied Innovation provide?
A: There are three areas of focus. The first is that we manage all of UCIâ€™s intellectual property and industry-sponsored research. Another focus is to support and stimulate entrepreneurship across campus at all levels â€“ undergraduates and graduate students, postdocs and faculty. And then our third is to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Orange County and to be a great partner to the community.
Q: Is there a distinctive advantage to being in Orange County?
A: We think Orange County is a sleeping giant in that there are a lot of startups and technology here; however, itâ€™s all very fragmented. So there hasnâ€™t been a concerted effort to connect all the different pieces, and thatâ€™s the role that UCI and Applied Innovation can play. We want to be a connector and facilitator to really accelerate entrepreneurship in the county.
Q: How have you been received on campus and in the business community?
A: Itâ€™s been overwhelmingly positive. The deans and a number of faculty have worked with us to create new programs. Weâ€™re still in the early phases with this effort, and the business community â€“ and specifically the startup community â€“ has embraced what weâ€™re doing.
Q: You hosted an open house Oct. 8 at Applied Innovationâ€™s 31,000-square-foot home, The Cove. Can you explain the vision behind The Cove?
A: Think of The Cove as a platform for the startup community in Orange County. And that platform is first an event space where we will have a lot of entrepreneurial activity for the community. But also we have built an ecosystem within the building. We have venture capital firms; we have incubators and accelerators. So what weâ€™ve done is create a place where the community can gain access to different resources. And, in fact, weâ€™ve already seen the resources in the building connect with each other and create new opportunities. Weâ€™re excited about that because weâ€™re not fully operational, although we will be shortly as final tenants move in and activities start to increase.
Q: How can anyone interested get involved?
A: The best way is to go to our website, get on our mailing list, look at our events page and plan to attend some of the events weâ€™re having this fall.