Technology fans may start seeing some new “Made at UCSB” stickers the next time they head to the market.
With the help of the new Venture Acceleration Initiative program, UCSB faculty now have the opportunity to sell their technological breakthroughs and inventions much faster. The VAI program assists campus faculty in finding entrepreneurial business consultations as well as access to business networks and seed-funding.
VAI Program Director Dr. Don Oparah said that although he developed VAI last year, the program itself was not exposed to the public until late last month. The VAI was jumpstarted by the College of Engineering in conjunction with the UC Discovery Fellowship – a program that seeks to work with trained professionals within the UC and its co-managed Dept. of Energy National Laboratories to advance research and development in California.
Oparah said the creation of VAI was crucial to the campus in light of the difficulties inherent in transferring potentially valuable research to the business realm.
“We have a lot of scientific and technological research conducted by professors at UCSB,” Oparah said. “All that is left is to transfer that research into a commercialized product. Researchers have been successful in the past, but a program needed to be created that could help others achieve the same goal.”
VAI Public Relations Manager Brianna Neal, a third-year English major, said that the program will effectively bridge the gap between the actual research process and the creation of businesses.
“Grants, money from the state and the financial support of CEOs have funded university research, but there’s more to it than the financial aspect,” Neal said. “VAI is currently working with students and staff members to write business plans to complete the process.”
Additionally, Oparah said that the program will benefit the local community by producing a variety of hi-tech jobs in the fields of medicine, health care, software, telecommunication and energy.
“VAI will also help the university by increasing UCSB’s profile and prestige and motivating faculty members,” Oparah said. “We will become a center of innovation, like Stanford and MIT, by getting the results of our research out to the public sooner.”
VAI entrepreneurial consultant Dr. Rafi Simon, a UC Discovery Fellow, also said both UCSB and the local economy will benefit from the program.
“The program will accelerate the creation of start-ups, providing career opportunities in the process,” Simon said. “UCSB’s enhanced external profile will help with recruitment and improve the school’s reputation as a center for commercialization of innovative research.”