James Vigil, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine, signed the first-ever UCI Founders’ Pledge in June 2017 for Aztlán, a mixed reality game he is creating with business partner Sergio C. Muñoz.
The UCI Founders’ Pledge gives students, alumni, faculty and staff an opportunity to include philanthropy in their startup ventures. Pledge signers make a commitment to give back to UCI when their company reaches marketplace success, and signers can control the amount, timing and designation of their future gift to UCI.
“I signed the pledge because I wanted to make a partnership with UC Irvine in what I expect to be a very successful project,” says Vigil, whose research will fuel the game’s story.
Aztlán’s business advisory team includes Andy Firoved, CEO of HOTB Software; Jacob Hawley, CEO of TLM Partners Inc.; Bill Grosso, CEO of Scientific Revenue and an advisory group of 30 academics from accredited universities.
“The collaboration between academia and the private sector has never been attempted in mixed reality games,” says Muñoz. “We are bullish that this will create an entirely new segment of the gaming sector that utilizes the educational legacy of veteran academics turned entrepreneurs like Dr. Vigil.”
A founders’ pledge is a natural fit for UCI, where programs like the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Applied Innovation and ANTrepreneur Center provide mentoring, networking opportunities, seed funding and business plan development services to help transform Anteaters into entrepreneurs.
“UCI is, and will continue to be, a home to some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and pioneering minds in the country,” says Vice Chancellor Brian Hervey. “With the UCI Founders’ Pledge, Anteaters can give back to the university that helped foster their success. We are grateful to Professor Vigil for starting this philanthropic tradition at UCI.”
Founders’ pledges are becoming more prevalent at universities across the nation. UC Berkeley’s founders’ pledge has already attracted more than 260 Cal entrepreneurs since its inception in 2013.
Inspired by the introduction of the pledge at UCI, alumni David Ochi, executive director of the ANTrepreneur Center and longtime startup entrepreneur, and Robert Kollar, vice president and general counsel of Givsum Inc., have already stepped forward to sign the pledge.